When the news came Tuesday that Casey Anthony had been found not guilty in the murder of her daughter, much of the country screamed in outrage that a woman might be getting away with murder. I wish at least half of that outrage could be mustered for the innocent people sitting in prisons today.
I grew up believing that police officers were our friends and that the legal system protected the rights of the innocent. I’ve lost a lot of faith in both of those beliefs. Things I’ve seen and read lead me to believe the an arrogant, out-of-control police culture has taken root — and that an overburdened, inadequate and cynical legal system has lost the ability to protect those who are innocent.
I’m much, much more worried about these issues than I am in the possibility that one cold, remorseless and lying woman might have gotten away with causing her child’s death.
Have you heard of Cory Maye? If it hadn’t been for the tireless work of Radley Balko while he was at Reason magazine, I’d have never heard of him. (Click here to watch an excellent 24-minute video produced by Reason.TV about the case. And click here for the archives of stories about Maye at Balko’s blog, The Agitator, which is on my personal list of sites to check ever day.) And if Balko and some other people hadn’t brought serious legal talent to bear, Maye would still be sitting on death row in a Mississippi prison for murder when he was clearly only guilty of trying to protect his daughter from unidentified men with guns when police raided his home by mistake. Instead, he’s now awaiting release after paperwork is processed. In a plea deal with prosecutors, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter to avoid another trial — because he can get out of prison now because of the time he’s already served.