When I was a kiddo, I watched The Thin Blue Line — a ground breaking documentary (by Errol Morris with music by Philip Glass) which dissects a then standing conviction of a man for the killing of a Dallas police officer in 1967. It played a huge role in getting that bogus conviction eventually overturned. Maybe this started me down the path to distrusting the criminal justice system, or maybe it was growing up in St. Louis where most of the criminal justice system is just way to extort low income people and people of color.
The recent release, via Netflix, of Making A Murderer as well as last year’s release of the podcast Serial, from the producers of This American Life, have people up in arms with disgust over shoddy investigative practices, underhanded prosecutions, and abhorrent practices in the criminal justice system. I am happy to see this. Beyond happy, ecstatic — but what has caught me off guard is their surprise.
Is this misuse of power really that surprising? In this mostly closed and self-governed system that is overburdened by terrible policy like the War on Drugs, is it really surprising that people get railroaded?
Anyway – I suggest checking out all three (The Thin Blue Line, Serial Season One, and Making a Murderer) and for a little truthy comedy, John Oliver is here to let you in on a few mind-boggling practices of this country’s criminal justice system.
And if you want to dig a little deeper, these are people working hard on reform: