Letter to the editor: Protect the innocent
To the editor:
Again we learn of an innocent person wrongly imprisoned for many years (Journal-World, Oct. 24). Can you imagine imprisonment for 23 years for a crime you did not commit?
This happens when prosecutors mishandle evidence — withholding, fabricating, lying, or other unlawful conduct. Former Ninth Circuit Court Judge Alex Kozinski describes involvement in this corruption as an “epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.”
Judges affirm that such conduct violates “basic notions of ethics, integrity, and fairness upon which the legal profession is built” and “erodes confidence in law enforcement and the criminal justice system” (Criminal Law Review, Dec. 14, 2016)
The job of the prosecutor is not to win the case but to do justice.
Unfortunately, Kansas is not immune to this epidemic. Within recent years we have learned of three innocent people exonerated after spending 16-23 years in prison. A slap on the prosecutor’s wrist does not atone for the years of trauma experienced by the prisoner and family.
What can be done?
Kansas legislators can follow the lead of other states that have enacted laws to help deter and give consequences for such egregious misconduct that devastates innocent people.
Our Kansas law compensating the wrongfully incarcerated is positive. But Kansans could save millions of tax dollars and much pain by addressing the cause of the wrongful incarcerations: the misconduct in the judicial system.
It’s time to not look away but to help our legislators see the importance of this and act.