What’s the real purpose of the prosecution?

Like most people that may read this, I also got hooked on the Serial podcast that outlined the reexamination of the murder of Hae Min Lee, an 18-year-old high schooler in Baltimore that ended with the conviction of her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed. Produced in the This American Life stables, Serial takes a second look at the prosecution of the 15-year-old homicide case with Adnan still serving his prison sentence. There are umpteen theories of whether Adnan is guilty or not. Personally, I think he isn’t but that isn’t the point of this post.

What caught my attention the most while listening to his podcast was how the prosecution approaches a homicide case.

While we all have seen the countless TV shows in which righteous state prosecutors pursue the truth with frustrated yet upright police officers who cannot sleep at night unless they have the truly guilty perp in prison. Reality, unfortunately, is very different. Anyone who has had a brush with the criminal justice system and I may add, I have not, knows that although justice is supposed to be blind, it is definitely not aligned with pursuing the truth.

The plain and simple fact of the system is that the prosecution is primarily concerned with is making the best case of its predetermined narrative. While the initial investigation may start out with an open mind, the focus is not so much as unearthing the truth and finding the real killer but in fact, trying to convict a person whom they can mostly easily prove to be is the killer. It may not seem much of a difference but imagine if you are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and in fact have taken the effort to help the police in trying to piece together the puzzle of what really happened. If the police think that you’re probably the best person they can prosecute and convince a jury, you’re screwed. Although the justice system is expected to be in favor of the defendant by placing the onus on the prosecution to prove that you’re guilty, the fact that they’ve made the arrest and have you on the defendant’s table is enough to make a set of 12 disinterested people in the juror box think you probably are guilty. The fact that people still get acquitted astounds me and makes me thankful to the defense attorneys (or makes me pity the ineptitude of the prosecution).

You would think that the state’s primary responsibility is in protecting the one innocent person even if they’ve to let 9 out of 10 guilty people go free but the police and the state attorney’s office are obsessed with conviction rates and data-driven decisions that dominate our lives now. It matters more that a prosecutors gets a conviction rather than truly solve a murder. No one gives a rat’s ass after the trial whether the person really was a killer. You would think at least out loud the prosecution would not say it out loud that making a best case possible is their priority instead of finding out the truth but you hear it plain as day on Serial. There are no consequences for voicing out this now-widely-accepted notion. Why should you trust the cops with such an attitude is beyond me.

Take an hour of your time to watch this video of why, under no circumstances, should you talk to the police yet probably you will:

You may think of me as incredibly naive and I admit I may be but the very fact that I may be considered so is indicative of how messed up things are.

Now, in light of these motivations of the cops and prosecution, consider the Michael Brown case in Ferguson. You may be the next Michael Brown. You may be the next Adnan Syed. And the truth may not have anything to do with it. That’s the world you live in.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Originally published at www.ipatrix.com.

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