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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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113 Responses

  1. tmc
    tmc November 20, 2012 at 10:57 am |

    Five boys were tortured until they confessed and then were imprisoned, where they were certainly exposed to ever more violence and abuse, and had their lives taken away. Fuck yes they deserve compensation.

    Absent proof of intentional wrongdoing by the city’s agents, the city should not pay.

    Right, and even though no one in the justice system “intends” to imprison and disenfranchise POCs at astronomical rates, it still manages to happen. They can shove their good intentions up their asses as far as I’m concerned.

    1. miga
      miga November 20, 2012 at 12:21 pm |

      I’ll bet if someone accidentally sold that commenter soup with a hair in it s/he’d still want a refund.

      1. igglanova
        igglanova November 20, 2012 at 1:41 pm |

        win

      2. samanthab.
        samanthab. November 21, 2012 at 6:19 am |

        Hmm. Hair in the soup vs. a decade in prison for a crime one is innocent of. One of these things is kind of not like the other. Also, I think it is generally the policy of most restaurants to give a refund in that situation. They have to answer to the health dept. Apparently, NYPD answers to no one.

        1. miga
          miga November 21, 2012 at 11:11 am |

          That was my point. One of these things is soooooo much less of a big deal than the other.

  2. Jenn
    Jenn November 20, 2012 at 11:04 am |

    I don’t agree with the commentator you quoted. I believe that harm has been done to these men by the false conviction, whether or not it was deliberate or wrongful. In order for our system of justice to be meaningful we need to admit that it’s not perfect and try to make things right when flaws like this cause harm. If there’s no cost to the people who enforce our justice system for mistakes like this, what motivation do they have to make it right?

    In addition we have five men who have lost part of their lives. It’s not just the loss of time, but the loss of opportunities for the future. As a society we should make sure they’re taken care of because we’re directly responsible for that loss.

    1. EG
      EG November 20, 2012 at 11:06 am |

      Completely agreed. And they couldn’t have been convicted without some incredibly ugly racism.

  3. chana
    chana November 20, 2012 at 11:15 am |

    I’m not comfortable focusing on one of the few occasions of wrongful rape conviction. MRAs bring up the Duke lacrosse case to give a false sense that wrongful accusations, arrests and prosecutions are more common than they are.

    Feminists have to repeat over and over again that these occurrences are exceedingly rare, but male POC activists think that their issues take precedence. Bringing this issue into an explicitly feminist space simply adds fuel to the fire and invites charges of hypocrisy.

    1. tmc
      tmc November 20, 2012 at 11:31 am |

      Well as a black woman, I’m not comfortable dismissing an especially egregious example of racist fuckery, especially one that calls to mind the ongoing strategy of reimagining black men as inherently dangerous to white women.

      1. TomSims
        TomSims November 20, 2012 at 1:05 pm |

        “Well as a black woman, I’m not comfortable dismissing an especially egregious example of racist fuckery, especially one that calls to mind the ongoing strategy of reimagining black men as inherently dangerous to white women.”

        You are spot on. I’m white, but it is clear our judicial system is completely racist. The Innocence Project has gotten many men out of jail, 99% of them black and many from false rape charges. This is completely different from the Duke Rape case which was about privileged white boys with rich parents that could afford high priced lawyers. And the only other famous false rape case in recent memory was again against 5 young black men in the Hofstra Rape Case. But fortunately they had a cell phone video clearing them of all charges. Otherwise they would have been doing long prison terms.

    2. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune November 20, 2012 at 11:31 am |

      For Christ’s sake.

      Post about rape, the male POCs come out of nowhere to wibble about false conviction rates. Post about false conviction rates, the women turn up to whinge about how this should have been about rape.

      Seriously, is there no way for everyone to grasp that if it’s not about you, it’s, uh, NOT ABOUT YOU?

    3. sabrina
      sabrina November 20, 2012 at 11:39 am |

      no just no.
      When police prosecute the wrong person in any case, but especially a rape case it does hurt us as women. The wrong person was convicted-which means that the actual rapist is still out there, presumably raping others, and this is the thing which we really need to focus on in these types of cases, is that he could go after his original victim again in order to shut her up so that new evidence can’t be brought up. Wrongful conviction hurt victims. We need to be talking about these things.

      1. chana
        chana November 20, 2012 at 11:44 am |

        But won’t this become the automatic excuse for anyone accused?

        “But look at the Central Park jogger case! The justice system isn’t fair to teh Menz! Anyone locked up for rape could be innocent!”

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 20, 2012 at 11:48 am |

          But won’t this become the automatic excuse for anyone accused?

          …she says, as if this isn’t already an automatic excuse.

          Honestly, chana, do you not think that getting as close as possible to eliminating false convictions aids the feminist movement or rape victims? Because I have to boggle at your thought process if you don’t.

        2. tmc
          tmc November 20, 2012 at 11:59 am |

          Oddly enough, everything you’re saying right now can likewise be used as an excuse for women of color to give mainstream feminism the side-eye. Funny how that works.

        3. Didn't Mean to Intrude
          Didn't Mean to Intrude November 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm |

          I apologize but…. is this really what we’re doing?

          Five people of color had a huge chunk of their lives stolen from them by a justice system/society that has repeatedly proven itself to operate under atrocious racial preconceptions, and falsely cast into a prison system that has a reputation (a lauded reputation in huge swaths of the country) of treating its prisoners with exceptional cruelty. To say the least, the emotional/psychological suffering these men (yes, men) have endured is quite likely unimaginable to most of us.

          And the only way we’re going to discuss it is if we eek out exactly how it affects the rest of us?

          Don’t get me wrong, I agree (strongly) with Jill’s assertion that there is a strong feminist component to this issue and we should certainly be discussing it.

          But…. Look, I guess this comes down to a personal thing with me. We spend so much time and energy trying to get other people to empathize (among other things) with the plight of women. It is disheartening, then, to see that when faced with the plights of others we are so unwilling to engage with them ourselves. Instead we squabble about what we are going to get out of the story at hand.

        4. EG
          EG November 20, 2012 at 1:23 pm |

          But won’t this become the automatic excuse for anyone accused?

          “But look at the Central Park jogger case! The justice system isn’t fair to teh Menz! Anyone locked up for rape could be innocent!”

          The fact is that the justice system is not fair to black men. At all. And yeah, when there isn’t a survivor able to identify the rapist, as in this case there wasn’t, and the cops pick up some black kids, not even men, and torture them into confessing (sleep deprivation was a tactic used by witch-hunters to extract confessions as well), we damn well should wonder if those kids are innocent after all.

        5. piny
          piny November 25, 2012 at 5:51 am |

          Women are also incarcerated, and incarcerated wrongly–I don’t know what the numbers are on eyewitness ID and crimes allegedly committed by female perpetrators, but I’d be surprised if we were less racist towards accused black women.

          Women also suffer from our increasingly punitive, anti-rehabilitative system, which is exactly the mindset that absolves law-enforcement of abuse.

          Oh, and you can draw a pretty straight line from criminalizing sectors of the population to being A-OK with prison rape.

    4. prairielily
      prairielily November 20, 2012 at 2:49 pm |

      This really isn’t a wrongful rape conviction in the MRA-logic-sense. The jogger WAS raped, just not by the people who were convicted. MRAs like to go on about how women that they *actually had sex with* could accuse them of rape willy-nilly. (Or at least women that they actually know.)That’s the part that’s a fantasy.

      Being misidentified as the rapist in a stranger-rape case because of a racist society’s expectations and a miscarriage of justice? Something else entirely.

      1. Andie
        Andie November 20, 2012 at 3:01 pm |

        Thank you, I wanted to say something to this effect but wasn’t sure how to word it. So I’ll just x2 it.

      2. SunlessNick
        SunlessNick November 20, 2012 at 10:02 pm |

        What Andie said.

    5. Jadey
      Jadey November 20, 2012 at 4:05 pm |

      Misidentification by police /= false claim by victim.

      That you would confuse the two says a fuck of a lot.

    6. Fenriswolf
      Fenriswolf November 20, 2012 at 6:06 pm |

      What? No. Just no. This is not a What About the Men? It’s not a derail. It’s pertinent as all hell because everyone, feminists included, should care about revolting things like this happening.

      Nor is it remotely similar to the Duke case. On many, many levels.

    7. samanthab.
      samanthab. November 21, 2012 at 6:27 am |

      I haven’t seen that it’s standard policy around here to focus on false accusations of rape. As Jill points out, the victim was doubly victimized here. She deserved to have the attacker brought to attention, and she played no part in the disgusting tactics of NYPD. I think it’s absolutely in the best interest of every victim that justice is served and not cruelly disregarded.

  4. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune November 20, 2012 at 11:22 am |

    Goddamn. Goddamn, goddamn, those poor kids. Fucking hell. I hadn’t heard of this case before.

    Of course they need compensation. Of course they need support. They were fucking tortured, how is that not obvious? (And if you think sleep deprivation isn’t torture, you’re so fucking stupid your human card needs to be revoked already.)

    1. tmc
      tmc November 20, 2012 at 11:25 am |

      They were fucking tortured, how is that not obvious?

      Exactly. The fact that this is even considered up for debate is blowing my fucking mind. Torture sans “intentional wrongdoing” (my ass) is still fucking torture.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune November 20, 2012 at 11:35 am |

        Intentional wrongdoing – SERIOUSLY?!?!?

        Fucking hell. I just. Okay. You know what? I was sorta-kinda-unintentionally sleep-deprived by people as a method of trying to force me to “just push through” my disability. I KNOW how hellish it is to not be allowed to sleep, or be constantly woken and told to keep interacting. Much less thinking. Fuck. And by the time I was crying and begging to be allowed to sleep because I was so tired, just so tired, and my limbs weren’t working right and I was nodding off standing up… yeah. I’d have confessed to murdering babies if I’d have been allowed to sleep at the end of it, and I wasn’t even being CONSISTENTLY sleep-deprived (just enough to never let me get more than a couple of hours).

        Okay, maybe this is a hot button for me, but still. Sleep deprivation isn’t the minor thing people

        1. tmc
          tmc November 20, 2012 at 11:49 am |

          Exactly. Without sleep, we die. Depriving someone of sleep is on par with depriving them of food, water, or air. If you withhold it for long enough, they will die. That is just straight-up torture.

    2. (BFing)Sarah
      (BFing)Sarah November 20, 2012 at 8:23 pm |

      Agreed 100% with both you and @tmc.

  5. Anon21
    Anon21 November 20, 2012 at 11:34 am |

    But, contrary to the view that, unfortunately, is becoming a norm in our society, not every bad thing that happens makes someone entitled to recompense by the government.

    I mean, maybe not if the “bad thing that happens” is something like being injured in a car accident or losing your cell phone on the subway.

    But when the government locks you up in a hellhole for twelve years, it really doesn’t seem like that much of a stretch to say it’s the government that should pay for destroying your life. Koch implies that the claim for compensation reflects some kind of entitlement mentality. But in fact, what he’s claiming is a special entitlement for government to be immune from the normal rule that those who inflict harm must compensate their victims.

    1. Kristen J.
      Kristen J. November 20, 2012 at 11:59 am |

      That jumped out at me as well. I mean, yes, I do think we should care for one another if one of us has a run of bad luck…but equating being tortured and imprisoned with bad luck is vile and disgusting.

  6. Thalia
    Thalia November 20, 2012 at 11:35 am |

    Of the five people in this Room for Debate, two argue for compensation (the two people of colour, as it happens) and two argue against (both affiliated with NYC and both white, as it happens) and one doesn’t answer the question (also white, as it happens).

    *sigh*

  7. Thalia
    Thalia November 20, 2012 at 11:35 am |

    Of the five people in this Room for Debate, two argue for compensation (the two people of colour, as it happens) and two argue against (both affiliated with NYC and both white, as it happens) and one doesn’t answer the question (also white, as it happens).

    *sigh*

    1. Thalia
      Thalia November 20, 2012 at 4:29 pm |

      I don’t know why that posted twice. Sorry about that!

  8. Andie
    Andie November 20, 2012 at 11:43 am |

    Regardless of intentional or unintentional wrongdoing, if someone is wrongly convicted of a crime and spends 12 friggin’ years in prison, hell yeah they should be compensated, whether it’s because they were tortured into a confession or it was a fucking clerical error.

    It’s not exactly a ‘minor inconvenience’ yanno?

  9. tmc
    tmc November 20, 2012 at 11:50 am |

    Is there any reason I seem to be on perma-mod? Not a single one of my posts is getting through.

  10. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan November 20, 2012 at 11:55 am |

    Okay, so if we’re (sort of) agreed that they should be compensated… how? Monetarily? By finding them jobs, paying for their college, giving them a good (re)start in life? Just handing them each a million bucks seems short-sighted at best.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune November 20, 2012 at 11:59 am |

      Bagelsan,

      I’d consider fully paid colleges/vocational training (should they wish to attend) and paying living costs while they go to college, therapy expenses should they wish it, and/or monetary compensation, at the very least. Considering the current US climate, I would imagine helping with their education would probably go farther than a simple monetary payment of the same amount, and they probably need therapy at this point. Fuck knows I would.

    2. Esti
      Esti November 20, 2012 at 12:13 pm |

      Handing them a million bucks obviously wouldn’t make up for what happened to them, but I’m really not comfortable with the idea that their compensation should come with strings attached. Maybe they don’t want to go to college, and they shouldn’t be economically “encouraged” to do so by telling them the compensation for the years of their lives they lost is conditional on them doing what the State things is right for their future. If they want to blow a lump sum on candy and beer, I will happily pay my share of that in taxes.

      (That said, I think the government should absolutely be providing voluntary assistance in helping these men transition to non-prison life, should they want it, and therapy should definitely be on offer as part of that.)

      1. EG
        EG November 20, 2012 at 1:18 pm |

        they shouldn’t be economically “encouraged” to do so by telling them the compensation for the years of their lives they lost is conditional on them doing what the State things is right for their future. If they want to blow a lump sum on candy and beer, I will happily pay my share of that in taxes.

        Agreed. After what it has done, the State has no business claiming to know what is best for them or their future.

      2. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune November 20, 2012 at 1:28 pm |

        Esti, absolutely. It’s why I specified all my recommendations with “if they wish it”. I can see the government turning “we’ll do that for you if you want” to “if you don’t do it you’re probably suspect” horrifyingly easily.

      3. Fenriswolf
        Fenriswolf November 20, 2012 at 6:10 pm |

        Abso-fucking-lutely. What you said.

    3. Fat Steve
      Fat Steve November 20, 2012 at 12:30 pm |

      Okay, so if we’re (sort of) agreed that they should be compensated… how? Monetarily? By finding them jobs, paying for their college, giving them a good (re)start in life? Just handing them each a million bucks seems short-sighted at best.

      Give them each an Applebees franchise.

      1. Fat Steve
        Fat Steve November 20, 2012 at 12:34 pm |

        Seriously, though, I’m in favor of just handing them a few million bucks. They have earned it.

    4. karak
      karak November 21, 2012 at 2:59 am |

      My concern would actually be giving them money. This money needs to be “managed” to guarantee it will be a continued source of income into their futures. They’ve spent most of their lives in prison, I doubt they understand the basics of financial management, from budgeting to taxes to investments to simply opening a bank account and balancing a checkbook and paying your bills through the mail or online.

      Each and every one of them should be monetarily compensated, then given a lawyer and a financial advisor to help them plan for their future.

      1. Andie
        Andie November 21, 2012 at 3:42 pm |

        I think offering a no-strings-attached option of assistance from a financial advisor would be nice, but I wouldn’t force the issue. Like Esti said, if they want to spend it on candy and beer, let them. They’ve been through enough.

      2. Rose
        Rose December 1, 2012 at 3:10 pm |

        Have you watched any of the various interviews with these brave men? They are eloquent, well-spoken, highly intelligent and shockingly lacking in bitterness given what was done to them.

        Yusef Salaam is college educated. All of them have been given an education in life in a way that most people with advanced degrees couldn’t begin to grasp.

        The race and class bias of these comments about their ability to handle money make my blood run cold. Why are these strong men who have survived so much being spoken of like they’re helpless children?

        Of course they should be compensated. Of course it should be with money and plenty of it. And it should go without saying that how they spend that money is nobody’s business but their own.

  11. Tim
    Tim November 20, 2012 at 12:18 pm |

    Most of us think that an admission of guilt is the most air-tight evidence aside from DNA. Who would ever admit to a crime they didn’t commit?

    There is actual research showing that it is not hard at all to get people to admit to things they didn’t do. One experiment is described here and I’m pretty sure there have been others. All it really took was just the experimenter acting accusatory and intimidating and people signed “confessions” almost immediately. Of course, the “crime” in the experiment wasn’t that serious, and some people would say that if it was something like rape or murder, that they would “hold out” no matter what. But multiply a few minutes of awkwardness and social discomfort into 24 hours of sleep deprivation (yes, it’s torture, and there is no excuse for any law enforcement or justice-system personnel not to know this), plus relentless questioning by multiple interrogators, and so on, and you can start to see how someone would confess to anything.

    1. Anon21
      Anon21 November 20, 2012 at 12:57 pm |

      The Supreme Court in Miranda v. Arizona has a bunch of excerpts from police manuals describing then-current tactics for forcing a suspect to confess without applying physical coercion. The theme is creating an atmosphere in which the interrogator has total control, and where the suspect’s denials are simply ignored and brushed aside. It’s actually pretty terrifying, and it’s not at all hard for me to imagine being worn down in such a situation even before you add the extreme stress of chronic sleep deprivation to the mix.

    2. Jadey
      Jadey November 20, 2012 at 4:14 pm |

      Basically the only thing less reliable than a non-spontaneous confession is eyewitness testimony.

  12. miga
    miga November 20, 2012 at 12:45 pm |

    NPR had an interview with a member of the Central Park Five, and his experience after he was exonerated was horrible. For example: due to recidivism he suffered from addiction and was arrested because of it. At his sentencing they marked him as a REPEAT OFFENDER, despite his exoneration, and so gave him a harsher sentence. Eventually he got that sentence lessened, but the fact that they didn’t even give him time served at the very least is infuriating.

  13. Jadey
    Jadey November 20, 2012 at 4:13 pm |

    I’m not actually sure whether this is the case in NYC or not, but if it isn’t it OUGHT to be: that the police/courts/correctional employees have a fiduciary responsibility for the people in their custody or whom they have detained, such that any harm which comes to them which could have been realistically prevented is the responsibility of the officials of the criminal justice system. In which case, FUCK INTENT – it happened in your care, you own it. The abuses which occur to people in custody, whatever their alleged or actual crimes, are a crime and an embarrassment. And incarceration is known (and has been known for *decades*) to put someone at enormous risk for downward spiral. NYC could never actually compensate these men for their loss, but they should damn well try.

    And whoever actually brutally raped and nearly killed that woman has never been caught, to my knowledge. That’s a fucking travesty as well.

    1. Anon21
      Anon21 November 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm |

      I believe Matias Reyes confessed to the crime, and DNA evidence confirmed that he was the perpetrator. He remains incarcerated for life on an unrelated conviction.

      1. matlun
        matlun November 20, 2012 at 6:29 pm |

        Yes. This was the whole reason they were exonerated.

        1. Jadey
          Jadey November 20, 2012 at 6:36 pm |

          Okay, good. I think I was thinking of another case that used old DNA, but didn’t have a confession. I see know that was in the OP.

          Still, he might have been caught sooner.

  14. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar November 20, 2012 at 5:26 pm |

    Do we want a system where the agents of the government cause a wrongful conviction by doing things that they know are likely to produce false confessions, and then when the real rapist comes forward the government says, “woopsie, guy we got it wrong, but we have no responsibility to do anything to compensate the harm”?

    I just don’t think that is either wise or humane.

  15. pitbullgirl65
    pitbullgirl65 November 20, 2012 at 7:07 pm |

    While no amount of money can bring back the years they’ve lost, they should be compensated, enough so they never have to worry about supporting themselves and whatever medical help they need, mental health too of course.

  16. Miss S
    Miss S November 21, 2012 at 12:15 am |

    Yes, they should be compensated. Also, we need a just justice system so that shit like this doesn’t keep happening. It’s disgusting.

    Also, legal question. If a confession is given after someone has been tortured (because yes, that is what sleep deprivation is, I’m an insomniac) can’t that be tossed out in court? Does the defendant get a chance to explain that confession in court, like “I signed that because I hadn’t slept for days and I had 5 men with police badges yelling at me for 7 hours to sign it.”

    And yes, as an insomniac, I would be willing to do damn near anything for sleep. My brain stops working if I go too long without sleep, and I get panic attacks that feel like I’m having some type of heart attack or stroke. It sucks.

    I feel awful for these men. This is going to impact their lives forever.

    1. Anon21
      Anon21 November 21, 2012 at 2:08 am |

      Also, legal question. If a confession is given after someone has been tortured (because yes, that is what sleep deprivation is, I’m an insomniac) can’t that be tossed out in court? Does the defendant get a chance to explain that confession in court, like “I signed that because I hadn’t slept for days and I had 5 men with police badges yelling at me for 7 hours to sign it.”

      Short answer: yes, a confession that is involuntary is inadmissible for any purpose.

      Longer answer: the standard for involuntariness is very demanding, and the court in this case apparently decided that the amount of sleep deprivation inflicted on these defendants did not qualify. Physical harm or the threat of physical harm will generally tip a confession over to “involuntary,” but anything short of that is going to depend on the judge you appear before.

      1. Miss S
        Miss S November 21, 2012 at 7:32 am |

        Thank you for the reply.

        If a confession doesn’t meet the standards for involuntary, can the defendants still explain or argue it in court? Or do they not go to court because of said confession?

        Also, (and this is the last legal question, I really should have gone to law school) can a person just walk out of the interrogation? Or do they have to stay?

        1. Anon21
          Anon21 November 21, 2012 at 11:39 am |

          If a confession doesn’t meet the standards for involuntary, can the defendants still explain or argue it in court? Or do they not go to court because of said confession?

          They are certainly free to recant it and argue that it wasn’t a product of their free will during a trial. One tactic might be to point out inconsistencies between the confession and the physical evidence, or inconsistencies between the confessions of multiple alleged perpetrator.

          In practical terms, it’s very difficult to get out from under a confession, because most jurors aren’t aware that a trained interrogator can often get people to confess to horrible crimes that they didn’t commit.

          I don’t know if expert testimony is commonly offered or accepted for the purpose of showing the unreliability of confessions. I know that defendants occasionally offer expert testimony on the issue of (un)reliability of eyewitness identification, and I believe that courts are generally pretty hostile to such evidence, for the stated reason that it gets too much into collateral matters (a mini-trial of the reliability of the evidence, as it were).

          can a person just walk out of the interrogation? Or do they have to stay?

          Since the Central Park Five were almost certainly under arrest during the interrogation, they weren’t free to leave. (More generally, “free to leave” is exactly the dividing line between “arrest” and “voluntary interaction,” but when you’re held at the police station for hours, it’s virtually always going to be an arrest, whether formal or not.)

          Theoretically, they could end the questioning by invoking their right to have an attorney present or their right to remain silent but 1) cops are really good at creating an atmosphere in which talking to them seems like the best option in a terrifying situation, and 2) they’re also usually pretty good at waiting and re-initiating interrogation after a break when the suspect invokes his right to remain silent. (Blowing past a clear invocation of the right to counsel is a riskier enterprise; generally the police need a two-week break in custody or the suspect has to initiate a conversation of his own accord.)

      2. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune November 21, 2012 at 10:28 am |

        the court in this case apparently decided that the amount of sleep deprivation inflicted on these defendants did not qualify.

        *rages*

        (not at you, Anon)

        *rages more*

      3. Miss S
        Miss S November 21, 2012 at 5:20 pm |

        Anon21, thank you for answering these questions.

        I know firsthand how people can be intimidated by authority figures. I was accused of some type of credit card fraud at a restaurant when I was much younger. Two male managers called me into the office and started hurling accusations at me. They raised their voices, rolled their eyes, glared at me, and told me if I didn’t confess they were calling the police. At one point, the manager picks up the phone and calls someone and starts discussing the “evidence” against me.

        I eventually ended up signing something (so stupid, but I was young, and terrified at the thought of going to jail). I should have just walked out, but they kept saying that if I didn’t sign, the police were coming.

        Fast forward 2 years, I walk into a nearby restaurant to apply, and my former manager is there. One of the ones who accused me of fraud. He offered me a job on the spot as a way of “making things right” because he felt “guilty” for the previous incident in which they really didn’t have “evidence” and he only went along with it because he didn’t want to lose his job. The other manager? Fired for embezzlement.

        Sorry for the long story. Just wanted to share. It’s harder to stand up for yourself against people in authority positions- bosses, police, etc. I’m fairly strong willed, and knew I was innocent, but was literally cornered into a locked office with two male bosses.

  17. Miss S
    Miss S November 21, 2012 at 12:16 am |

    Is there a not racist country I can migrate to?

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune November 21, 2012 at 12:28 am |

      I’m fairly certain the answer is NO.

      1. Miss S
        Miss S November 21, 2012 at 2:38 am |

        ::sigh::

    2. Bagelsan
      Bagelsan November 21, 2012 at 3:06 pm |

      Antarctica?

  18. gratuitous
    gratuitous November 21, 2012 at 1:07 pm |

    There are many, many good comments here, and a lot to chew over and think about.

    One point I’d like to bring up is the sensational nature of some crimes, and public pressure to get the bad guys. I’m decidedly NOT excusing police or prosecutorial misconduct, but it takes some special people in those offices when the public is howling for an arrest, a conviction and a hanging to stand in front of the cameras and say, “This is a difficult case, and we want to be 100% sure we convict the right person.” How many of us will accept that answer when there’s a sympathetic crime victim in the ICU or the morgue? How many of us will counsel our friends and neighbors to be patient and let the investigation proceed without the histrionics?

    1. EG
      EG November 21, 2012 at 3:01 pm |

      No. If your job by nature involves a lot of pressure, you need to be able to do your job right while you’re under that pressure. This wasn’t a case of somebody slipping up and searching without a warrant. This is a case of torturing kids.

      1. gratuitous
        gratuitous November 21, 2012 at 4:17 pm |

        Yes, it IS a case of torturing kids. But my point is that the mistreatment of the accused didn’t happen in a vacuum. Part of the antecedent for their torture is public and media pressure on police and prosecutors to arrest someone (anyone!) and get the case “solved.”

        I’ll let the popular media in for its share in this as well (screaming headlines and wall-to-wall coverage have a profound effect on driving public opinion), but the public buys into apprehending the bad guys scenario. We as a society would be far better served by a healthier respect for due process and a little less willingness to be stampeded into a false closure to satisfy our blood lust.

        But down that road lies madness only hinted at by the writings of H.P. Lovecraft should the principle be applied across the board to other areas of our culture and society.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 21, 2012 at 5:59 pm |

          Yes. Those horrible people, wanting people to do their job that their taxes are paying them to do. How dare they.

          I agree with you on the fact that the media is helping warp the way the public views the need for closure, but I think if you look up any source more detailed than Wikipedia on the history of police it’ll become incredibly obvious that the pattern of the ages has been the police torturing first, torturing later and maybe asking questions if they feel like it. It’s just that that’s now considered too naughty a thing to do, unless it’s to marginalised populations.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 21, 2012 at 6:02 pm |

          Argh, posted too soon.

          So before you blame the public and the media for putting pressure on the poor cops, oh noes, you might want to consider that the bulk of history lies on the side of that same media and public, who decided that the repressive, authoritarian actions of the police were too barbarous – that’s right , I used the B word – for the 20th century and that their powers should be curbed and defined. At least, that’s been the pattern in most of the countries I’ve read about.

        3. miga
          miga November 25, 2012 at 2:07 am |

          And to add to this messy little vacuum outside/media pressure always seems to come on when the victim meets certain criteria. Specifically those of race and class.

    2. igglanova
      igglanova November 21, 2012 at 8:18 pm |

      Ok, can we give gratuitous a break here? All s/he’s saying is that the police are not the only people culpable in the phenomenon of false imprisonment, and that the environment outside the police force exerts pressures on the officers, particularly in high-profile cases. There is nothing here about ‘poor cops.’

      1. Bagelsan
        Bagelsan November 21, 2012 at 8:46 pm |

        Agreed. In fact macavitykitsune sounds like she basically agrees, too, apparent disagreeing tone aside…

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune November 21, 2012 at 11:30 pm |

          Yeah, I wasn’t disagreeing with gratuitous’ point at all! Just saying that historically, cops have proven to be, ah, less than industrious about suspects’ rights, so blaming it even mostly on the media and the public is a bit disingenuous. I agree with the blame, just not how much they’ve assigned.

      2. igglanova
        igglanova November 21, 2012 at 8:57 pm |

        *False conviction, that should read.

    3. Miss S
      Miss S November 21, 2012 at 11:11 pm |

      I see what you’re saying, and to add: don’t police and DA’s have political/personal/career motivations to land a conviction? In addition to the pressure, or maybe because of it?

      1. Miss S
        Miss S November 21, 2012 at 11:31 pm |

        Or to be clear: aren’t the motivations of police and DA’s sometimes for their own benefit, rather than to simply appease the public? In a “I want to get re-elected, keep my job” sort of way?

        So the goal isn’t always justice, but the appearance of it.

  19. Tony
    Tony November 21, 2012 at 2:01 pm |

    Oh boy, the Guardian has a comments section! I wonder what the first comment’s going to be in response to this fact filled and well argued article?

    Oh yes. Of course.

    “the biggest mystery in this crime was why this woman was jogging in Central Park late at night”

    Apparently this was a mistake because the city was controlled by Democrats (unlike now), and you shouldn’t go jogging if your city is controlled by Democrats.

    NOW that rape has been eliminated in NYC, it’s safe to go jogging in Central Park late at night!..heck I do it all the time!.., but WHAT WAS SHE THINKING?

    That’s the biggest mystery here. Why isn’t the NYPD investigating this mystery???

  20. Tony
    Tony November 21, 2012 at 2:11 pm |

    On topic- of course they should be compensated. The courts have been cracking down on this sort of thing for decades- I was reading about Thurgood Marshall yesterday, and the first big case he won before the Supreme Court, Chambers v. Florida (1940), declared that voluntary confessions could be ruled inadmissable in court if there was evidence that they were coerced through other methods. In that case, the police were under heavy pressure to reach a conviction in a robbery-murder, they rounded up 40 transients and kept them detained around the clock for a week until five of them confessed. And that was before Miranda, Gideon, etc.

  21. tmc
    tmc November 21, 2012 at 7:46 pm |

    If I remember correctly, everything I write started getting caught in the mod filter in a thread in which I was unapologetically angry about the silencing of black women that happens in this space. I’m apparently still on permanent moderation. It was fucked then and it’s fucked now.

    I can’t help but wonder if any of the “polite” racists here who don’t hesitate to go on and on about how inferior the people of my race are to whites are also on perma-mod, or if that’s an honor reserved for uppity niggers like me.

    File this one under Things That Make You Go “Hmmmm….”

    1. tmc
      tmc November 21, 2012 at 7:48 pm |

      And weirdly enough, this is the first thing I’ve written in the past couple days that has NOT gotten caught in the mod filter. So does it just hate me?

  22. David
    David November 21, 2012 at 7:51 pm |

    This is very much like the Duke case because the accused were convicted in the press. Look back and you will see that the magazines and TV shows convicted them. So why does the media forget about fairness when rape is involved? Why is the media so hyper sensitive to rape when the accused is a man? Who are the pressure groups yelling for convictions?
    These young men were raped too. They were raped by a society that is anti-men and anti-black men in particular.

    1. Bagelsan
      Bagelsan November 21, 2012 at 8:49 pm |

      And I’ll bet you got “raped” by hard tests in school, too. And “raped” by not getting to use your mom’s car. And “raped” by having to avoid calling women bitches to their faces…

      Jeezus. What a “rape” epidemic there is against David!

      1. David
        David November 21, 2012 at 9:34 pm |

        I apologize for using that word.
        I like your style so please tell me what you think of the rest of my comment. It appears that the media hates men but not women.
        How did you know about mom’s car?

  23. Cilla
    Cilla November 22, 2012 at 2:49 am |

    Oddly enough, everything you’re saying right now can likewise be used as an excuse for women of color to give mainstream feminism the side-eye. Funny how that works.

    Yes. Yes. Yes some more. =/

  24. Lamech
    Lamech November 23, 2012 at 9:20 am |

    1) Of course they should be compensated. A wrongful conviction is either
    a) The fault of the state being for either being negligent or outright malicious. In which case they should be compensated. or
    b) An unavoidable cost of the state doing what it needs to do. Like taking someone’s house to build a road or paying the police. These costs should be paid for by a large base of tax payers. In other words, these people should be compensated.

    2) BTW if your on a jury, do NOT, I repeat DO NOT, trust anyone who lies as part of their job and is perfectly okay with it. Especially about anything important like evidence in a criminal investigation. They are NOT trustworthy. The upshot of this is those police officers who lie in interrogations are not trustworthy. They lie. They admit to lying. They try to deceive people, please do not trust them when they say they aren’t deceiving the jury.

    1. Glass
      Glass November 23, 2012 at 7:46 pm |

      In this case the police posed as the bad guy’s intended victim which is, essentially, lying. Should a jury dismiss the police testimony then?

      TRIGGER WARNING

      http://www.oregonlive.com/tigard/index.ssf/2010/11/tigard_man_gets_20_years_in_federal_prison_for_his_pursuit_of_sex_with_a_child.html

      1. Lamech
        Lamech November 25, 2012 at 1:56 am |

        Yeah, don’t trust liars. Its quite possible they managed to acquire sufficient physical evidence to prove without any untrustworthy testimony.

        1. Glass
          Glass November 25, 2012 at 12:35 pm |

          I sincerely doubt that.

  25. xzaebos
    xzaebos November 23, 2012 at 12:30 pm |

    Humanity. It’s a tricky subject.

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