Philadelphia Residents On The Hook For $9.8 Million For Putting The Wrong Man In Prison For 28 Years
from the give-till-it-hurts-residents,-say-the-government dept
Plenty of people can ruin lives. But no one can ruin lives like cops and prosecutors.
Look, we get it. Everyone likes an easy day at work. But when lives are on the line, the “easy” should be subservient to the “justified.” But that’s not what happens. When cops decide they like someone for a crime, “correct” is no longer a factor. You can’t close a case file without a convicted perp. And closing a case apparently means more than being right, even if it means the real perp is still on the loose.
So (to paraphrase the screw coming down on Paul Newman) you get what we have here: a perp. A perp who wasn’t the actual killer, but still lost more than a third of his life expectancy to police and prosecutors eager to close a case. Who pays for this miscarriage of justice? Well, it’s the same people who want for all the world to believe a miscarriage of justice will never occur: taxpayers.
We want to believe cops want to protect us from violent criminals. The reality is opposed to this viewpoint. The cops want whoever they can hang a crime on, even if it’s not the real criminal. And while cops go to bed feeling they’ve made us safer, real life shows us cops can sleep through the shittiest railroadings. So can prosecutors.
In Philadelphia, taxpayers are being forced to cough up nearly $10 million to pay for the things that let terrible cops and worse prosecutors sleep the sleep of the righteous. Here’s Jeremy Roebuck of The Philadelphia Inquirer, letting us know that horrendous things are being done in our names because it’s being done with our tax dollars.
In one of the largest wrongful-conviction settlements in Philadelphia history, the city said Wednesday it will pay $9.8 million to a man exonerated after spending nearly three decades in prison for a murder he did not commit.
$9.8 million is not an insignificant amount of money. That’s decent VC funding. That’s a comfortable retirement for people who want to retire while they’re still in their 30s. That’s a monumental amount of cash. And this payout could have been avoided if anyone involved in the investigation had decided the perp that was “easiest” wasn’t actually the murderer they were seeking.
But no one did. And it cost an innocent man more than a third of his life.
Chester Hollman III was 21, with no criminal record and a job as an armored-car driver, when he was pulled over in Center City one night in 1991 and charged with the fatal shooting of a University of Pennsylvania student in a botched street robbery. A judge ordered him released last year at age 49, citing evidence that police and prosecutors built their case on fabricated statements from people they coerced as witnesses and later withheld evidence pointing to the likely true perpetrators of the crime.
This is what we get for supplying cops with outsized portions of city budgets. This is what we get for giving the law enforcement side of our lives outsized deference for years. This is what we get for accepting exonerative bullshit for years from cops and prosecutors. We give them an inch and they take 28 years off a man’s life.
$10 million is low. But it’s all the city can do. As this report notes, cops and prosecutors have cost the city (and by the “city,” I mean its taxpaying residents) more than $35 million in a little over two years.
Is this acceptable? It shouldn’t be. But those paying the fees for bad cops and worse prosecutors hold almost no power. Sure, they can vote with their expectations and wallets during local elections, but when push comes to courtroom shove, taxpayers are on the hook. They’re expected to right the wrongs they never would have allowed to happen. It’s their money on the line but they have no say in how it’s spent.
Garbage in. Garbage out. This payout isn’t a record-setter. But that’s only because many of those who dipped their investigative wick in this case were even more awful in the past.
His payout is just $50,000 short of the record for settlements of its kind in the city — a distinction held by the $9.85 million agreement the city struck in 2018 with Anthony Wright, a man who served nearly 25 years of a sentence for a 1991 rape and murder that DNA evidence proved decades later he did not commit. Several of the same investigators who worked to convict Wright were also involved in Hollman’s case.
Vomit in disgust, Philadelphia. Hold your enemies close. But hold your wallet even closer. The city supports bad cops and bad prosecutors. There’s a progressive DA in office now, but the horrors of the past can still come and demand you pay for actions you’d never condone.
We’re paying for easy days at work. Taxpayers are asked to fund criminal “justice.” But when they have their hands out, they refuse to specify they’ll take the “justice” in scare quotes over real justice any day of the week.
One [witness] said officers had threatened her with arrest if she did not implicate Hollman. The other [witness] later said he had agreed to provide the false testimony in hopes of securing help with his own pending criminal case.
Keep your receipts, folks. Wave them in the faces of “more of the same” law enforcement candidates. Ask them why the easiest route to “justice” involves threatening witnesses and tilting the scale against people whose innocence is supposed to be presumed. Ask them how they sleep at night knowing they’ve sent innocent people off to prisons where crime is more rampant than the crime on the streets they’re supposed to be policing. Ask them if they’re cool subjecting people to violent rape and the loss of their freedom based on nothing more than a bunch of coercion. If they’re cool with it, suggest they end their careers, if not their lives. They’re not worthy of your respect, much less your tax dollars.
We have a system that’s supposed to protect the accused from an overbearing government. But far too often, it only shields the accusers and their busted inputs. For the rest of us on the outside, the only thing it means is higher tax rates and the use of our money to pay other citizens for being fucked by the government we’ve asked to never put us in this position.