Sunday, May 14, 2006


Cool story -- with irony, of course

Christopher Ochoa, wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for 12 years for a crime he didn't commit, graduates from law school.

This happened in Texas, and an interesting footnote to the story is the fact that then governor George W. Bush did nothing when, in 1998, evidence was brought to the attention of the governor's office that someone else had committed the crime.

This came up in the 2000 presidential campaign, but did not cause much of a stir. Contrast that with the 1988 presidential race. George H. W. Bush won the election in part by blaming Democratic contender Michael Dukakis for the violent crime committed by prison inmate Willie Horton while on furlough during Dukakis's tenure as Massachusetts governor. Dukakis had vetoed a bill that would have made convicted murderers such as Horton ineligible for the furlough program. This attack dovetailed neatly with relentless attacks on Dukakis for his opposition to the death penalty.

Better not to let one guilty man go free than...

Better to convict one innocent man and set him free than ....

Fool me -- you can't get fooled again.

How early on did the whole "better set ten guilty men free than imprison one innocent man" thing die?
My father was an immigrant, and he used to recite that "better to let ten guilty men go free than to put one innocent man in jail" line as the most extraordinary example of the glory of america, a comment usually presaging an equally bitter set of comments on how ignorant americans are of their good fortune and how many of them would call you a communist for reciting our own bill of rights. at the time, these seemed like diatribes but as i have gotten older, i've come to realize that comments like these have shaped my entire political identity.

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