Crying out for Justice.

People cry out for justice, but they often have no idea what the word means, or the concepts it embodies.

Bringing someone to justice doesn't mean punishing them. To "bring someone to justice," means to bring them to a "fair, just, or impartial legal process."

In America, bringing someone to justice means bringing them to our legal system which, above all, presumes that everyone is innocent. You need not prove your innocence. The burden of proof falls upon the accuser, not the accused. And yet, according to the most reliable studies available, 40% of inmates in America's prisons most likely were falsely convicted.  DNA evidence continues to free people who have languished behind bars for decades, and we now know that perfectly innocent people will confess to crimes they didn't commit simply because they are emotionally drained and exhausted after hour upon hour of relentless interrogation.  They figure that they can clear it up later. They just want to go home.

I've seen people arrested and handed a blank piece of paper, told to sign it, and told "don't worry we will fill in what you're supposed to say." I've seen "signed confessions" where the signature is not that of the accused by any stretch of the imagination. I recall a woman being shocked to discover there was a signed statement by her confessing to a crime. Her last name was Robinson. The signature clearly said Robertson — the "law enforcement" person didn't pay enough attention to the name of the person they wanted to frame. She repeatedly pointed this out to her public defender who, tragically, was far too busy to pay any attention.  She went to prison.

In 1968, Caroline Olsen, a 27-year-old elementary school teacher, was murdered by gunshot during a robbery on a Santa Monica tennis court. Olsen's husband, Kenneth, who was also shot but survived, initially identified the killer, but another man, an honored American Veteran and accomplished college student,  who was THREE HUNDRED FIFTY MILES AWAY when the murder took place, AND COULD PROVE IT,  was arrested and charged with murder and kidnapping. Why? Because he was a member of the Black Panthers and was on a list of people that J. Edgar Hoover wanted "put away."

Evidence of his obvious innocence was withheld from the jury. Mr. Pratt spent 27 years in prison, most of it in solitary confinement, for a crime he didn't commit. Finally freed, he was paid  $4.5 million for false imprisonment. The FBI admitted that they framed him for the murder. Swell. He was brought to justice when he was released. 

"What about justice for the victim?"  What in the world does THAT mean? The victim is not brought to court for a fair and impartial examination of the facts of the case. The victim is not charged with a crime, the outcome depending upon the accused being treated with justice.  

I have been robbed, assaulted, and threatened with violence. I have testified in court against the accused. I identified them, and the knife they used to rob me. They had a good defense attorney, and justice was served. They were found guilty and sent to prison. 

I have also been accused of doing things I never did, and heavily pressured to admit to crimes I never committed.  If I hadn't had the financial resources available to me, I could have been railroaded like millions of others. 

When you demand justice, remember what it means: fair, just, impartial.

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