Milgaard Inquiry

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Kirk Bloodsworth

Last night, I watched Kirk Bloodsworth on Larry King. I think he's doing the talkshow circuit in order to promote his new book, Bloodsworth: The True Story of the First Death Row Inmate Exonerated by DNA . In 1985 Kirk was convicted of sexually assaulting and murdering a nine-year-old girl. He spent more than eight years behind bars, including time on Death Row, before he was cleared by DNA evidence. This same DNA implicated another man AND that man confessed.

Nonetheless, the prosecutor on the panel on TV was reluctant to admit that Kirk had been wrongly convicted. She insisted that DNA did not tell the whole picture, which is probably true, and that Kirk could have been a second party in this murder, which is patently ridiculous. The real killer's semen was found all over the young girl's body and the guy admitted to killing her! What more do we need?

Both Kirk and a representative from Project Innocence pointed out to this prosecutor that she would be quick to condemn any man that she was prosecuting if his DNA was found at the scene of a crime. In that case, DNA would be a perfectly acceptable and reliable tool to use. But when it comes to establishing one's innocence, that's another story.

This incident illustrates how difficult it is for the legal system to say that it's wrong. They made a mistake. They're sorry. In the face of concrete evidence that is often lacking in other crimes -- only a fraction of all crimes involve DNA! -- this particular prosecutor would not back down. Shameful. It only goes to show how crucial it is for the Milgaard Inquiry to push for an independent judicial panel. How long do we have to wait for a group of impartial souls to take a hard look at the people behind bars?

Sigrid Macdonald

P.S. Buy Kirk's book! We should support him and learn the grisly details behind his arrest, conviction and life in prison.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Police state

According to a recent bulletin from the Reuters press, the 27-year-old man who was shot by police in London yesterday had nothing to do with the most recent bombings. The man was identified as Jean Charles de Menezes, a citizen of Brazil.

We can all empathize with the terror and pressure that the police in the UK must feel over the last two attacks: the death toll, the destruction, the massive injury list, the fear and anxiety that this may happen again and again. No one would fault the Bobbies for being vigilant but the public assassination of this innocent man is a tragedy.

It will be difficult to strike a delicate balance between the appropriate degree of alertness and readiness to respond to attack, and an overreaction, which may lead to racial profiling, arresting and imprisoning the wrong person, or the worst-case scenario -- killing an innocent man.

My heart goes out to the Brits during their time of grief and fear, but I hope that this terrible injustice will encourage law-enforcement officers everywhere to think twice about a knee-jerk reaction.

Sigrid Macdonald

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