Wrongly Accussed I chose the Radlet reading for the purpose of doing my reaction paper. It was so dramatic that you almost wanted to call it a story, as in a fictional book. The sad fact is that it was true. Even sadder is the fact that many of these true stories have played out through our countries history without the happy ending that Clarence Bradley finally received. What was so shocking to me was when my eyes crossed the dates in which the Clarence Bradley case took place.
If those dates weren’t listed, and I was asked to guess what time-period the case took place in, I would probably guess something in between the 30’s and 50’s. Now that it has been brought to my attention, I realize that this type of injustice can still happen today. All you need is a city comprised of a racist majority from which officials will be elected and jurors will be selected. Apparently cities like these are not too awful hard to find. Probability will then tell you it want be long before you get an ignorant but deadly combination of people with closed minds and selective hearing, trying to play God.
The first question that comes to my mind is do these people really think that the African-American suspect is always guilty, or do they just hate African-Americans so much that they don’t care? Those people that assume guilt based on race are the truly ignorant ones. Those who don’t care about guilt or innocence must not only hate African-Americans, but white women as well, otherwise they would want to find the real culprit. I would say that this group of people is truly evil. How else would you describe someone who protects the murderer, could care less about the victim, and ultimately kills some random person because he has more pigment in his skin? This would have to be the category that the judges and prosecutors, in cases such as this, fit into. These people are obviously educated, but they must have been absent on the day morals and ethics were taught. The next question that comes to mind, is where do the parents of the victim come into the picture? Do they sit back and take one of the two above-mentioned roles, or do they press for the apprehension of the truly guilty party? It is also disturbing to know that when a decent person finds him or herself sitting on these racist juries he or she may not have an option on the verdict due to fear from threats.
Even if they do vote not guilty, the jury will be hung, and the suspect will be tried again and again until a guilty verdict is reached. For the African-American suspect almost always in the past, and still in some cases today, being accused is the same as being guilty. The evidence presented in the first trial seemed to be nothing more than circumstantial, and the evidence presented during the appeals seemed to clearly show that Clarence Bradley had nothing to do with the murder. It was obvious that the other janitors knew this, and also at least knew who was involved. I would think that after they kept changing their stories suspicion would fall on them, especially when they started accusing each other and the other witnesses came forward.
The fact is all of this information was ignored to my disbelief. Before I got to the end of the reading, I was far from certain what the outcome would finally be for Bradley. It was lucky for him that the case drew some public attention and the unbiased Judge Picket. Still the outcome was uncertain. I could not believe that after Judge Pickets ruling it would be two years before the Court of Criminal Appeals would finally pick up the case.
This case did finally have a happy ending, but this was not the case in the last two short trials discussed at the end of the reading. These cases showed how sure even the suspect was that he would be found guilty. It is certainly a tragedy when someone feels that they have to plead guilty even though they were innocent, or when someone simply gives up hope, deciding to spend the rest of their life in prison instead of continuing to appeal. Reference Radlet, M., Hugo, B., & Putmam, C. (1992). Since You’re the Nigger, You’re Elected. In Spite of Innocence: Erroneous Convictions in Capital Punishment Cases. Boston, MA: Northeastern University Press.