After Exoneration, Harper's Editor on Dallas's "Reinvigorated Commitment to Do Justice"

Harper's Washington Editor Ken Silverstein has many thoughts on the DNA exoneration of Cornelius Dupree Jr. yesterday, when a Dallas County judge acknowledged that the 51-year-old man served 30 years in prison for a rape he did not commit. Silvestein delineates some of the myriad "weaknesses of the criminal justice system," from the appeals process that saw Dupree rejected three times to the problems with parole. After some discussion of the promises kept by Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, Silverstein concludes with this:

Some prosecutors argue that the reputation of the criminal justice system and our interest in keeping costs down require a policy that avoids looking back. They say that once a defendant has had his pass through the system, flawed though it may be, he has gotten all the law promises. But the integrity of the criminal justice system depends first on its ability to dispense justice, and that must include a recognition that prosecutors, judges, and juries make mistakes. By exposing their past injustices, courts and prosecutors in Dallas are revealing their own reinvigorated commitment to do justice and are converting a tarnished record into a beacon for the rest of the country.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky