There is a news story this morning about a Missouri man freed after 20 years in prison for first degree murder. A reviewal of the trial and court proceedings vacated the case and freed him. I am full of mixed feelings.
How does a justice system do justice for an injustice they perpetrated? Exoneration is nice, but it is a basic, ground-floor action. How do you compensate for 20 years of undeserved incarceration?
The man is of African-American descent. A recent issue of National Geographic makes it abundantly clear that race definitions are cultural constructs, not genetic categories. His skin is darker than mind, his hair quality is different, but there is no biological line that scientifically separates him from me—yet the social construct of racism is still deeply ingrained in our society, even more so 20 years ago. My heart aches for a whole population of my own kind who still confront a different standard in our judicial system than I do.
On the other hand, I am deeply grateful for those diligent people who reviewed the case and came to an honest conclusion. It would have been so easy to go on ignoring it, but they did not.
I pray for all involved that the gargantuan loss not incite bitterness and that a truly rewarding and fully human life opportunity opens up for the man; that true justice be served to those who are responsible for the crime; that those who corrected the miscarriage of justice know that all who stand for truth honor them.