Thursday, December 3, 2009

A canary in a very dark coal mine

Tim Egan pulls no punches in his latest article about the persecution of Amanda Knox. "What century is this?" he asks. "Didn’t Joan of Arc, the Inquisition and our own American Salem witch trials teach civilized nations a thing or two about contrived sexual hysteria with a devil twist?"

The sad truth is that virtually the entire world, including the United States as well as Europe, remains in the Dark Ages when it comes to criminal justice. DNA evidence has shown that mistakes are far more common than most prosecutors and judges would care to admit. In the US, more than 200 prisoners have been freed because DNA tests have proved their innocence. By any reasonable estimate, thousands more innocent people remain behind bars. Most are poor and uneducated with little chance of ever gaining a reprieve.

In that respect, Amanda is lucky. Whatever the court decides to do in the next few days, she has a growing army of supporters who know she is innocent and will champion her cause until the day she walks out of prison. And that day will come. My hope is that prominent writers like Egan, by taking a stand on Amanda's behalf, will help raise public awareness that wrongful prosecution is a pervasive problem, even in civilized nations.