Yet Another Murder Exoneration — After 39 Years

Ricky Jackson Leaving PrisonThe most repetitive story in America never gets boring. You know the one. The police pick up some guy and decide he committed a murder. The guy is always poor and almost always dark skinned. So the police get someone to lie or do so themselves. And then decades later, he is exonerated. It’s so much nicer than the much more common story that is the same except for the end, “And the state put him to death despite many problems with the case.” Now we have the story of Ricky Jackson and Wiley Bridgeman — two men released from the Ohio prison system on Friday after 39 years behind bars. Because Jackson was in a bit longer, he now holds the record for the longest time spent in jail before being exonerated. I assume Bridgeman holds the record for the second longest.

This case is especially bad because the police used a 12-year-old boy, Eddie Vernon, to do their dirty work. The crime was a very brutal convenience store robbery. But as usual:

There was no evidence linking the three men to the crime. Vernon said that once he told authorities the names of the three and the fact that he saw the slaying, Cleveland police fed him information about the crime and what happened.

But here’s an excellent additional example of our criminal justice system. Wiley Bridgeman was paroled back in 2000. But he didn’t stay out long:

In a chance meeting just months after leaving prison, he ran into Vernon. The two talked, and Vernon testified this week that he asked for Bridgeman’s forgiveness.

Someone saw the two men together and told Vernon that he must report the meeting to Bridgeman’s parole officer, as Bridgeman was told he could not meet with any witnesses in the case. Bridgeman was soon sent back to prison for a parole violation.

The question on my mind is why we see this over and over again, yet nothing happens. We have a broken criminal justice system where prosecutors have almost unlimited power and the police have little regard for the truth. And none of them are ever held accountable. These two men were convicted on the say-so of a child with no other evidence. That’s something more tha just laziness and incompetence. That’s villainy.

These two men also spent time on death row. I bring this up because whenever I talk to a death penalty supporter, they always think that death penalty cases are air tight. But in that, they are usually like this case: based upon almost nothing other than the fact that the defendants are poor and can’t mount a good defense.

This is justice in America, folks. It is despicable. And we do nothing about it because judges, prosecutors, and police offers have nothing to fear from being too harsh. Is it any wonder that we treat the weak as though they were animals?

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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