Pubdate: Fri, 18 Jan 2002
Source: Dallas Morning News (TX)
Copyright: 2002 The Dallas Morning News
Author:  Don Jones


The recent plague of tainted arrests of drug suspects has brought something 
very chilling to the attention of the average citizen. It's bad enough that 
there is the appearance of impropriety and collusion between narcotics 
officers and their confidential informant. That innocent citizens were 
arrested, jailed, their lives and their businesses destroyed, is 
unconscionable. No amount of money or apology will ever be able to make it 
"right" for them again. And I don't think any of them should hold their 
breath waiting for a "We're sorry, we made a terrible mistake, what can we 
do to help you make it right?"

Accountability? Especially if it would lead to lawsuits? No way. It's time 
for spin control. And that has already started.

No, the really bad part of this tale are the fates of the people already 
convicted. They got to see the way "justice" is meted out in America. The 
district attorney's office, striving to be ever more efficient, held the 
maximum sentence over the heads of the accused and offered them a plea. 
It's just good business. The courts aren't clogged up with obviously guilty 
people. The bad guys go to jail, the police get their man, the district 
attorneys get their convictions. But what if ... What if the accused don't 
have the financial resources to defend themselves?

We know that Texas is stingy on indigent legal aid. What if the accused 
don't speak English, are not naturalized citizens? The problem is 
compounded. Facing decades in prison for a crime you did not commit, do you 
have faith in a system that has already failed you? Or do you plead to a 
lesser charge, play the odds, and learn to survive in the Texas prison system?

Don Jones, Fort Worth
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