The content on this blog is my personal opinion and does not reflect the views of the Department of Defense or the US Navy in any way.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Standards of Evidence

Today we're going to be reading about a massive failure in the US justice system.

Honestly, the specific details of this case aren't entirely what I want to talk about. I'd like to focus instead on one line from the start of the article: "The police are under great pressure to solve a sensational crime, they are sure they have the culprit, and when evidence is lacking they plant it and give false testimony." It's a pretty good summary of what probably happened here.

If one knows they have the culprit in custody but can't find the evidence to support it, sometimes that means one doesn't actually have the culprit in custody. This seems like it should be a trivial point, something that almost anyone should be able to realize, but apparently it's not. Apparently multiple people throughout an entire police department were too overconfident to question how they'd reached their conclusion or realize that there was evidence available which could easily disprove that conclusion.

This is not acceptable job performance for anyone with investigative duties. If it were up to me, everyone involved would not only lose their job but would not be able to get another one until they had demonstrated quite a bit of improvement in their critical thinking skills.

They're not the only ones who need to take a close look at what standards they're willing to accept, though. Their leaders aren't holding them responsible for their errors, nor are they willing to double check when someone presents evidence that something may have gone wrong. And ultimately the people that elect those leaders aren't punishing them for their failures either, whether because we can't or we won't.

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