People dislike change. People like going with the flow. We find comfort in our faith in the institutions that surround us. Nobody wants to be disturbed, to feel disturbed or troubled. People don’t like being confronted with unpleasant realities. It’s human nature. We are creatures of comfort. We’re creatures of habit and routine, and integral parts of those routines are the trust and faith we place in those bureaucracies that are the backdrop to our lives.
I think this is (but) one reason that the issue of wrongful convictions isn’t a popular idea. As my dad puts it, the reality of wrongful conviction steps on a lot of people’s toes. He’s right. It’s clear that many (most?) people simply don’t want to be bothered… at all, with any of it, really. But even those people that are “engaged” and “involved” in the discourse of ideas don’t quickly attach themselves to the cause of criminal justice reform and fighting wrongful convictions. Though there are many reasons why, for this is a complex issue, I think one big reason is simply that Americans don’t want to believe that one of our core institutions, an institution of “Justice,” can be so wrong, so often.
Acceptance of this reality that our justice system is plagued with error causing thousands to suffer as a result, asks too much of us. The reality of the need for criminal justice reform requires shifts in our thinking and requires obligations to action that are so radically opposed to going with the flow, and so diametrically adverse to routine and comfort that we easily shy away. On a very primal level I think that this “shying away” looks like indifference masked by a feigned (or even real) disdain for wrongful conviction and CJReform causes. If we don’t outright dislike these issues, we, instead, just ignore them. This is probably the most common response to such issues: we act like they aren’t there, like we didn’t see them. Maybe if we ignore it, it will go away.
The problem, of course, is that it isn’t going away, and real people are suffering- even right at this very moment. Right now there are hundreds and hundreds of thousands suffering behind bars, subject to a punitive and often inhumane system, as impersonal and draconian as it is massive and derelict. Real people are suffering and we are called to remember them! We are called to ease the suffering of others.
Not everyone is going to become a warrior for the wrongfully convicted, but perhaps after considering these things you can, in your own way, and championing your own causes, help share a little love towards this unpopular one. Maybe you won’t become a warrior for the wrongfully convicted, but perhaps a friend to them, and if not even a friend, perhaps more friendly.
Thank you for reading.
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