For all intents and purposes, the criminal justice system is supposed to deliver outcomes that are fair. It’s supposed to protect the innocent, hold the guilty accountable, and make the world a safer place.
Granted, there are times when this happens. However, there are also occasions when the criminal justice system gets it wrong. When the latter takes place, the results are devastating.
When innocent people are found guilty of crimes they didn’t commit, lives are ruined. When guilty people are able to skirt the law and get around the system, they’re emboldened to victimize even more people.
In Missouri, a new case has exposed just how high the stakes are when the criminal justice system fails, as documented by New York Post.
A Miscarriage of Justice Finally Corrected
Almost 28 years ago, Lamar Johnson received a prison sentence for murder. The now-50-year-old man was found guilty of taking the life of Marcus Boyd.
However, Johnson always maintained his innocence of this crime. In 1994, ahead of his sentencing, the man even provided an alibi, stating he was spending time with his girlfriend, away from the scene of the crime, when Boyd was murdered.
It never gets old watching a free man walk away from an unjust conviction. Here is #LamarJohnson as he prepares to meet the media … pic.twitter.com/hjv4zJFXyw
— Tony Messenger (@tonymess) February 14, 2023
However, this didn’t him from spending nearly three decades behind bars. Earlier this week, though, Johnson was relieved when his guilty conviction got overturned by a Missouri judge.
Despite the outcome, Missouri’s state attorney general’s office agreed with the 1994 verdict and pushed for Johnson to remain incarcerated. In a statement, the man’s lawyers blasted the attorney general and noted that what Johnson lost can never truly be restored to him.
Ongoing Debates About the Criminal Justice System
In the United States, there are all sorts of debates about whether the criminal justice system is as effective or righteous as it should be.
Some folks hold the view that the criminal justice system isn’t harsh enough on serious criminals who ruin people’s lives. However, there are others who believe the criminal justice system is laced with bias and not effectively ensuring that truly fair outcomes are served.
This is the moment Judge Mason announced he would set aside Lamar Johnson's murder conviction. pic.twitter.com/ZEk1MGLVG9
— KMOV (@KMOV) February 14, 2023
There is no doubt that Johnson’s case in Missouri will contribute to current disputes about whether the criminal justice system is working as it should be.
Nevertheless, since being freed, Johnson confirmed that he’s going to spend time with his family and try to make up for what he lost after nearly three decades of incarceration. Johnson’s attorneys, meanwhile, claim the evidence used to overturn his guilty verdict was very much available in 1994.
What are your thoughts about the criminal justice system in America? Do you believe there are more people who have been sitting in jail for crimes they are not guilty of? In the comments area below, you are more than welcome to share your thoughts about the matter.