Imagine you are accused of having committed a horrible crime. You are convicted despite your protestations of innocence. You serve your sentence in one of the more inhumane prisons in the country for over a decade. At that point DNA evidence and other material evidence reveals that you were indeed not the perpetrator. You are released, exonerated, given $5000 (for 10 years of your life) and then you meet up with the victim of the crime, whose eyewitness identification of you was the basis for your conviction.
How do you reconcile? In the specific case I have in mind, these two became friends; they are now on a lecture circuit warning against the dangers of reliance on often fallible eyewitness identification procedures. The ability to forgive on his part boggles my mind. The ability on her part to forgive herself and become a close friend even though she still saw his face in flashbacks of the rape for the longest time, leaves me speechless. Somehow they found a constructive way to integrate the tragedy they shared in different roles.
It does not always work that way, though. In a current case in Colorado a wrongfully convicted man is suing ex-DA Morissey and the city of Denver and various other defendants for compensation. The lawyers argue that “Mr. Moses-EL was wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for more than 28 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC). He always maintained his innocence. But shoddy investigation, the willful destruction of exculpatory biological evidence and prosecutors blinded by the desire to obtain and maintain convictions regardless of the truth left Mr. Moses-EL in the cross-hairs of a powerful criminal-justice system that would fail him time and time again.”
I’d say. Imagine being convicted on the basis of your purported victim’s dreams and visions (she claims she’s always had visions that turned out to be true in her life), since she could not see anything in the dark when the horrible rape happened. Imagine having a judge vacate that sentence after 28 years because someone else confessed to the crime, and then have the DA re-try you, except now the jury acquits you. http://www.westword.com/news/clarence-moses-el-sues-denver-over-wrongful-28-year-imprisonment-9794307
His demand for $1.9 million compensation is refused by the current Denver DA because:“his acquittal through a jury does not mean he is innocent. There was just not enough evidence beyond reasonable doubt to convict him….”
Maybe revenge, retaliation and reconciliation aren’t terms that should be used in one sentence, but I sure have them co-mingling in my head.
Photographs are of a centuries-old, still active courthouse in Pistoia, Italy.