An amazing article by Martin Preib, a Chicago cop who exposes the dark underbelly of the “innocence” industry, in which scores of law and journalism students and their professors resort to deception in their desire to play Atticus Finch to criminals who aren’t really wrongful convicted:
Wrongful conviction settlements are big business, but they are not always sensible. Chicago settles millions of dollars in cases where convicted offenders claim they were wrongfully convicted.
For a number of law firms, suing the city over wrongful convictions has become a kind of cottage industry. Inmates claim they were tortured and coerced into confessing. The offenders are freed from prison. Attorneys quickly initiate civil lawsuits against the city. Many people assume that a settlement signifies the police were culpable and had something to hide.
But this is not the truth in several key wrongful conviction cases, none more so than the Anthony Porter case, a double murder in 1982 in Washington Park on the South Side.
Preib shows how students and professors at Northwestern University and post-conviction lawyers didn’t even bother to interview the detectives involved in the conviction of Anthony Porter when they tried to exonerate Porter years later:
One common theme permeates the entire wrongful conviction movement: the police are crooked, willing to coerce confessions from the wrong man, willing to frame the wrong man, torture him, even. Police are often accused of racism in wrongful conviction cases, that they don’t care about African-American suspects or their communities. Many of these accusations were lobbed against the detectives in the Porter case, one of the most crucial wrongful conviction cases in the state’s history.
That Martin Preib could singlehandedly, with no resources, uncover more evidence than armies of well-connected, well-funded professors, students, and lawyers speaks volumes about the dynamics of post-conviction criminal justice activism.
The media repeats the claims of the Innocence Industry uncritically and dumbly parrots their nonsensical “statistics” about so-called “causes of wrongful conviction” — statistics and causes that are a pure fabrication. If the Innocence Project were actually trying to create real wrongful conviction statistics, they would have to do several things they don’t do now — first and foremost contextualize their cases within the numerical universe of rightful convictions.
They would also have to stop inventing “causes of wrongful conviction” that highlight only one aspect of a case, often something minor or irrelevant to the conviction but that serves their ideological interests.
They would have to acknowledge that the most common “cause” of wrongful conviction is being a criminal and running with other criminals. Lying for a criminal friend, being a non-DNA depositing co-conspirator in a murder that leaves no witness, dealing in stolen items from the crime, and letting your own brother go to prison in your place are all causes of wrongful conviction that you won’t find anywhere in the Innocence Project’s highly touted “statistics.”
Several of the Innocence Project’s most high-profile clients are serial rapists popped for the wrong crime BECAUSE they were committing similar crimes in the area or had done so elsewhere. The media avoids mentioning this part of the story because they want to act out their own Atticus Finch drama. Fabulist journalists go looking only for the story they want to hear, as Prieb demonstrates:
One wonders when journalism professors started teaching students to get only one side of a story. It turned out that, during the Innocence Project investigation, the detectives say that neither Protess [head of the Innocence Project at Northwestern] nor his journalism students ever attempted to sit down with the detectives and listen to their account.
Finally, many Innocence Project clients were not actually innocent at all.
I have repeatedly urged Innocence Project activists to use some of their vast resources and manpower to try to identify offenders who got away with murder and rape. Merely saying this is a great way to get laughed at — or accused of racism, the movement’s eternal fallback pose.
The Martin Preibs of this world toil on their own in the shadows to correct grotesque injustices, as the defense bar and their media lackeys labor to spring anyone and everyone from prison, regardless of their crimes.
Imagine if someone made that into a movie.
Martin Preib’s Amazon Page