Opinion

Why the Central Park 5 Still Applies to You Today

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The Central Park 5 is one of the most well known cases of a wrongful conviction in the American Justice System. There are many factors that went into this case that led to 5 innocent men getting convicted of a rape and attempted murder of a woman jogging in Central Park. They were not released and exonerated from their crimes until the true assailant confessed and his DNA matched the sample found at the scene. By looking at some of the key components of the case and how the men have moved on from being exonerated, it can lend to concepts that people should still carry with them even now.

The Dangers Of Police Interrogation

The main piece of “evidence” that landed the 5 men in jail for this case were their confessions. Four out of 5 of the men confessed to the crime on video tape, while one refused to do so. The men shared that they had been interrogated for hours upon hours, ridiculed, beaten down, and intimidated into saying they did it. One of the men involved in the case, Yusef Salaam, has gone on record saying that he could hear the cries and screams of his friend coming from the other room with interrogators looking at him and saying “You’re next.” It is important for everyone to know their rights when being interrogated and what the police are legally allowed to do.

Importance of DNA Evidence

In the Central Park 5 case, there was DNA found on the victim. None of the men matched the DNA sample that was collected, yet they were all arrested and convicted. This came about because of their false confessions talked about above. It was the confession and DNA match of the real attacker that finally led to the release of the innocent. It is important to know that all DNA should be tested to look for matches. While in some instances is not enough to prove innocence, it can be important later in the case or in an argument in court. It is also important to remember that DNA evidence should not be taken lightly and you have a right for it to be tested.

Hope Can be Maintained in the Darkest of Times

Yusef Salaam is one of the prime players in this case. After his release and proven innocence, he decides to use his story to inform and inspire others. He shares multiple accounts of how he continued to have hope when others would think that all hope had been lost. He shares about how his time in prison made him discover who he really was and what he wanted to do with his life. He talks of learning from your mistakes and using the events, good and bad, in your life to help you grow as a person. The darkest times can be the times that you find yourself and instead of looking at his time in prison as a curse, he uses it as a blessing to teach about justice and peace.

Continued Debate of the Death Sentence

During the trial of the Central Park 5, in almost all news outlets there was discussion of reinstating the death sentence so it could be applied to these men. The brutality of the attack and the process of the trial led many americans to take a positive stance on the death sentence. The specifics of this case bring an argument to the execution of the death sentence. These men were innocent yet proven guilty, if the death sentence was in place, it is possible they would be subjected to it. It is not only these 5 men that are imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit, so is the death sentence safe to be employed?

President Trump and The Central Park 5

One of the biggest advocates for the death sentence to be carried out on the Central Park 5 was Donald Trump. He spent $85,000 in 1989, during the time of the case, to place ads about reinstating the death sentence. He was quoted writing “Muggers and murderers, should be forced to suffer and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes.” At that time this was many americans thoughts. However, most dropped this mentality towards at least the Central Park 5 after their innocence was proven. Trump, did not. He continues to back what he said and did in 1989 and in an interview with CNN in 2016 he’s quoted saying, “They admitted they were guilty, The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty. The fact that that case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous.” He seems to be blissfully unaware of the multitude of prisoners that have fallen victim to the ins and outs of the american criminal justice system.

About Courtney Mizer

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