Flawless Justice

Written by Drew on January 3rd, 2008

The state of Texas has released its last in a string of 30 wrongfully convicted inmates since 2001. Charles Chatman spent 26 years in prison for a crime he never committed. He was tried and convicted for raping a woman who lived five doors down from him. Through DNA testing, a crime lab in Dallas County was able to exonerate him.

What does he do now? It must be hard to cope with losing 26 years of your life. Mr. Chatman told the Associated Press, “I’m bitter. I’m angry. But I’m not angry or bitter to the point where I want to hurt anyone or get revenge.”

Mistakes like this are more common in our judicial system than we’d like to admit. Still, it’s the best system possible in a world composed of flawed human beings. Every suspect that is charged with a crime has the right to a fair trial and legal representation. If he is unable to provide a lawyer for his defense the state provides one for him. Cases are tried by jury—12 peers representing a slice of the community in which the crime was committed. Even after conviction, the accused may choose to make an appeal. Our system is full of checks and balances that cover as many weaknesses in the system as we can anticipate. In the case of Mr. Chatman, after 26 years crime labs were still investigating his case, just to be sure.

When mistakes in our judicial system are discovered we get a sick feeling in our stomachs, wondering how many of these mistakes we missed. What about those who were wrongfully convicted before DNA testing was possible? How many innocent men and women spent the rest of their lives in prison for crimes they didn’t commit? Is it possible that we’ve sent innocent people to the electric chair? Sobering thoughts.

Despite the flaws in our system, we still cling to it, knowing that without any system of justice life would be unbearable. We need a government that punishes the evildoer. That is why we continue to pursue criminals and prosecute crimes with vengeance.

Why is it that people understand the need for civil justice, albeit flawed, but many of them bristle at the thought of a flawless judicial system in heaven? Unlike our own judges and prosecutors, the Judge of all the earth shall do what is right (Gen. 18:25). He doesn’t need DNA testing; he knows what is in man (Jn. 2:25). And at the end of time, every person shall stand before him, the great and the small, to be judged for the deeds that were committed while on earth (2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 20:12). On that day there will be no mistakes. Secrets will be revealed (Ps. 90:8; Ecc. 12:14). Those deemed to be righteous will be accepted into eternal bliss; those deemed to be wicked will be separated into eternal punishment (Mt. 25:31-46).

The only way to prepare for this flawless judgment is by obeying the gospel of Jesus Christ. By following this scheme of redemption, every sinner can stand before the throne of God in boldness, because of the blood of Jesus Christ.

There will be no appeals. No second chances. Are you prepared?


3 Comments so far ↓

  1. Kevin W. Rhodes says:

    What is beautiful too about this is that even if one of us were to be wrongfully imprisoned and even executed, if we are faithful to God, He knows the truth and will ultimately welcome us home. God knows the mistakes men make in judgment both in favor of the evil and against the good, which is why we should commit ourselves and our judgment to Him.

    Great thoughts as usual, Drew.

  2. Danny Vice says:

    It would seem that the wrongly accused who are later exonerated of the crime they were falsley accused of would receive something in exchange for the large part of their life that was taken away from them.

    The fact is, even in the United States, restitution for those incarcerated is certainly not guaranteed. In fact, in many states, there are more government resources for those released on parole than there are for those who have been wrongly incarcerated and later exonerated and released.

    Currently, an overwhelming number of people who have been exonerated of a crime are not compensated for the toll the incarceration took on their lives socially and economically.

    Thus far, only 22 states in the US have laws in place to provide some level of compensation for those who were wrongly convicted. This means a majority of those who went back to court and proved their innocence are then required to sue for this compensation.

    This process utilizes significant resources that a recently released inmate typically does not have. For those who do have the knowledge or financial ability to bring a case, the enormous cost of the additional legal wrangling involved may soak up much of the payout.

    Many victims of this outrageous process are handed the more daunting challenge of simply restoring their name, let alone consideration of a lawsuit that may or may not result in restitution for the time that has been lost.

    What’s more, the payout often times received is meager in comparison to what is usually lost. Marty Tankleff for example was sentenced to a New York state prison after being wrongly convicted of killing his parents. Although his case was recently overturned, Marty just recently visited his parent’s graves for the first time since their deaths.

    Ronnie Taylor, a Houston man who was recently exonerated of a crime he didn’t commit was engaged to be married before his arrest in 1993. DNA testing proved his innocence 14 years later – allowing him to finally marry his bride Jeanette Brown. (source)

    The Innocence Protect, one organization established in 1992 utilizes DNA testing as a means to force new hearings for those who are wrongly accused. It’s website lists hundreds of cases of wrongly convicted individuals who’s cases were overturned after a conviction.

    While the Weekly Vice does not subscribe to every point of view of the Project’s mission statement, one has to wonder where our culture would be without such advocates. Many wrongfully accused individuals have languished in prison for decades before their faulty convictions were tossed out.

    Here are a few more examples of justice gone horribly wrong:

    Dennis Brown from Louisiana was convicted of a 1984 rape and spent 19 years in prison before DNA testing confirmed that he could not have been the rapist.

    Marvin Anderson became the ninety-ninth person in the US to be exonerated of a crime due to post-conviction DNA testing. Even when another individual confessed to the crime Lamont was accused of, the Judge upheld the conviction until DNA evidence finally confirmed Lamont’s innocence. He wasn’t exonerated until 1992, nearly 20 years after his arrest.

    Orlando Boquete’s wrongful conviction of attempted sexual battery was vacated a staggering 24 years after his arrest back in 1982.

    Robert Clark, wrongly convicted of rape, kidnapping and armed robbery in 1982, languished in prison primarily by mistaken eyewitness. Mistaken identity seems to be a common theme with the cases that later get overturned by post-conviction DNA evidence. Clark was finally vindicated 24 years later.

    Luis Diaz was wrongly convicted in 1980 as the ‘Bird Road Rapist’, where 25 women were attacked, many of them sexually assaulted. Diaz was convicted for 8 of them. His case was overturned 25 years later in 2005.


    These are only a handful of the cases you can view HERE, however they are a sampling of the many instances where our legal system goes horribly wrong to such degree that compensation for one’s life cannot be calculated as a mere loss of wages as most restitution awarding states provide.

    The Weekly Vice supports tough sentencing guidelines for all sexual assault cases, particularly those of minor children.

    We also believe however, that states should be equally aggressive with some level of state subsidy, restitution or other adjudged compensation that is deemed appropriate for each individual case. A dismal 22 states is not a goodwill showing for a nation who prides itself on a Justice For All philosophy.

    Thanks For Accepting Comment—–

    Danny Vice
    The Weekly Vice

  3. Kevin W. Rhodes says:

    Danny, this illustrates how easy it can be to miss the point by assuming one’s own point. Drew’s article was not a condemnation of our system or about restitution. It was about God’s justice as compared to man’s.

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