In a perfect world, the criminal justice system would hold to its creed of innocent until proven guilty. In the same world, people would reserve judgment until cases are proven without a shadow of a doubt. This is not a perfect world and where most cases are tried in the media only further proves that the system is broken. Accusations are overexposed and the media dramatizes cases to make a person seem as if they are guilty. Several members of the Duke University Lacrosse team were falsely accused of rape and subsequently their lives and reputations were ruined not only by the accuser but the prosecutor and media as well.
Prisonworld Magazine, an international magazine for inmates, their families, lawyers, activists and organizations alike, receives numerous pieces of mail weekly from those who have not only been falsely accused but also wrongfully convicted. “It is hard to hear the stories of those who have been incarcerated since they were 15 or 16. You are not the same person at 16 that you are at 30. To spend so many years of your life incarcerated for something you did not do you are literally growing up in the system. Parents have proved not to believe in their children’s innocence. Teachers have been duped by less than credible investigations. It is sad that the juvenile justice system does not do more to preserve the integrity of the process. It is sad that the juvenile justice system provides sentences that spill over into adulthood.”
Just recently Kendall Anderson, a 16 year old from South Philly, murdered his mother after she took away his Playstation for being accused of stealing a laptop from school. The jury is still out as to the guilt or innocence of Kendall and the stolen laptop, but the sheer accusation perpetuated into a horrendous crime of murder. Kendall confessed in detail to all aspects of the murder and will most likely receive a sentence of life without parole.
To believe in a system that is broken is false hope. Juveniles are being incarcerated at such a rate where overcrowding is not only affecting adult facilities but youth facilities as well. The statistics regarding racial differences of incarceration are staggering. To place a child, who has been falsely accused into a broken system, is wasting a life.
In 2008 a 13year old was detained 5 weeks in a juvenile facility for an accusation of marijuana possession. The test results proved it to be oregano. Within those five weeks, this juvenile was abused and subjected to behavior that breeds further criminality. The false accusation was provided by a school administrator.
Fresh out of the press headlines is Brian Banks’ story, a prominent high school football player bound for college falsely accused of rape which has recently been overturned after spending time in prison. The accuser befriended him on Facebook and admitted her dastardly deed which lead to redemption for Banks. But at what cost? His life had been ruined. He had been labeled a sex offender. He had missed opportunities of a promising football career. He endured years of unnecessary judgments.
Think before you speak and accuse. It only takes a few seconds and the right lie to ruin a life.