Thursday, May 14, 2009


Shall we?

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 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.


Not if.



Mari said...

I love those shows! ..and I agree, it's easy to say yeah, go ahead and kill this one, when he's horribly tortured some child, but you have to look at the big picture and realize there will always be the chance of killing someone who is innocent, therefore the death penalty must go. The big thing our society needs is early intervention and education so we aren't making monsters. They say these sociopaths are set by age 5. That doesn't give us much time, but we do know where to start...

Maven said...

You really should see "American Violet," if you have not already. It's a compelling story, and goes hand in hand with your love of crime and justice.

Unknown said...

As a victim of violent crime, I have always supported the death penalty.

That is until the last couple of years..when I came to realize how many people are wrongfully convicted of serious crimes. Until I realize that District Attorney's regularly railroad people, like was done in my county of Kern when over 30 people were convicted of molesting their own children and ALL of those convictions were overturned and prosecutorial misconduct charges were assessed against our fuckheel DA's office.Some folks spent 20 fucking years in prison only to be released with a slap on the ass and a 'sorry dude'.

I now think the death penalty is bullshit and I hope..nee, I pray that the DP will go the way of the dodo bird...straight into extinction.

IseultTheIdle said...

1. I am not a fan of outrage porn.

2. People screw up. Police officers and investigators are people, as are prosecutors who occasionally need to convict someone - anyone - for political reasons.

3. The death penalty is inherently racist and classist, as is also true of much of the legal system. It's unfortunate; no one wants it to be so; but it's a fact, and until we are in fact postracial and postclassist we need to bear this in mind.

4. Here's an interesting thing about the death penalty: it can make criminals more dangerous if they think they need to eliminate witnesses. A prison term is a risk, but the needle is an unacceptable risk.

I support and avidly follow the Innocence Project. Hit their web site sometime - it's a good read.

Unknown said...

The Innocence Project helped the Kern County 'child molestor's' get out of jail on the trumped up charges.

Wonderful group IseultTheIdle, glad you mentioned them. The documentary Witch Hunt goes into detail about the Kern County cases and IP.

Shark-Fu said...

Maven...I'll ahve to check that out! Thanks!

IseultTheIdle...thanks for mentioning IP!

Dusty...I just saw Witch Hunt and it was beyond scary. Anyone, anywhere was vulnerable. Great documentary and a real must see!!

Unknown said...

It's scary because it's true Shark Fu. Glad you saw it, and I wish everyone would see it..if only to realize that what happend to them can happen to anyone here in our country.

The directors and producers came to Bako a couple of weeks ago and showed the Documentary at our local movie house, huge turnout by the locals. There was a rally prior to the movie showing. Sean Penn spoke as did the victims of Ed Jagel's bullshittery. It was sad to see them now and know that the best years of their lives were spent in prison for nothing other than a sick assed witchhunt. I did a post on it on my personal blog. I talked to John Stoll and a couple of the other folks that went through that hell on earth.

I had to leave before the end of the movie. Sitting next to the victims and watching them react and remember tore me up. But I did see it on MSNBC last month I think.

Unknown said...

People can purchase the documentary at the website:

Sorry to hog your comments section Shark Fu, but this issue really hits home for me after meeting the victims of massive prosecutorial misconduct that still goes unpunished.

Anonymous said...

Great post. The judicial system is yet another area that needs attention. There is much work to be done. I wish we as a nation would just sit down and have real conversations about these things. As a person who has had a violent crime shatter their life, I never once wished the death penalty upon the person who committed the crime. All I wanted for her was that she receive psycological help. Anyone who can kill another person or brutally harm them needs a lot of therapy. I hope some day we all come to realize this. It really is not enough to just throw these people in cells.

Instead of spending money on whatever stupid study your legislature is requiring they should put that into the educational system, into job programs, into affordable housing or SBA loans for people to start little businesses, or into therepy for folks. I mean there are so many better roads to take than some useless study that they already know the answers to. The study is a chicken's way out. We as a nation need to be bolder and spend money where it is needed.

Peace to all

Skeeter said...

Hi! Great blog. Love the mix of substance, humor and wit. First time visitor. Best wishes, Skeeter

Unknown said...

I'm sure the rest of your piece is riveting, but you had me at "Bill Kurtis". I've had a crush on him since he was the local co-anchor (with Walter Jacobson) on Channel 2 news in Chicago when I was a wee lass.

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