A bitch is a crime buff. I regularly watch crime shows like American Justice because I am fascinated with the system and I adore Bill Kurtis. Over the years I have watched original episodes of American Justice only to later see an update episode that revisits the original crime because something new has happened…some new evidence has surfaced, someone other than the person convicted has confessed or corruption has been uncovered.
A bitch has to give it to Bill Kurtis, the host of American Justice, for circling back when that shit happens. Not only is it the right thing to do as a journalist, but it also helps viewers understand that all is not always what it appears to be when one is looking at a crime.
I bring this shit up because of yesterday’s vote in the Missouri House on a crime bill…and the emotional debate that took place…and the ultimate decision not to grant a moratorium on the death penalty coupled with the agreement to support further study.
As a crime buff this bitch understands Nancy Grace Syndrome. I get the “Well, what were they doing out in that part of town at that time of night!” the “Look at all those counts in the indictment, the prosecution must have something!” and even the “She had a lawyer, trial and was convicted…and if [insert heinous crime] doesn’t merit the death penalty I don’t know what does!”
And, as a crime buff, this bitch also knows that thousands of people have been wrongfully convicted, that the multitude of isms that infect our society also infect our legal system, that money talks and bullshit walks and that continuing to rely on eyewitness identification is fucked up from the floor up even as it is uniquely harmful to people of color.
I know that CSI is fiction, that people lie on the stand (gasp!), that people can honestly screw up and that sometimes innocent people talk themselves into a conviction (see The Interrogation of Michael Crowe).
And I know that our society does not benefit from denial…the questions hovering over our legal system will continue to poison and slowly kill any integrity left within.
No amount of southern fried outrage justifies the incarceration of the innocent…for everyone wrongfully incarcerated there is a criminal going free...no amount of societal fear justifies torture…and emotional and passionate testimony from victims will not absolve us should we uncover that the state murdered an innocent person.
Yesterday, the Missouri House voted to not halt executions but to investigate how those executions are done.
Which brings me back to American Justice and those follow-ups on previous episodes…segment after segment covering a person released due to DNA evidence, another person granted a new trial because a lawyer demonstrated that the original trial was fubar and others walking out of jail after decades because it was revealed that a crime never happened.
And a bitch can’t help but wonder when…not if…Bill Kurtis will profile the wrongfully executed the same way he has profiled the wrongfully convicted.