October 31, 2015 11:55:50 PM
Supports Colom for D.A.
As the director of the Mississippi Innocence Project, I have had a front seat to the injustices in our criminal justice system. From that vantage point I've observed that many of these injustices were the result of overzealous and sloppy prosecution. I've seen the extreme damage a prosecutor can do when he or she is willing to put a conviction before justice and a "tough on crime" image before the truth.
And I've also seen what happens when voters are led to believe that this is all they can expect or want from their local D.A. Public safety doesn't come from being "tough on crime"; it comes from being sensible and fair and making difficult decisions even when those decisions are not necessarily popular.
All of which is why I was pleased to learn that Scott W. Colom, is running for the district attorney's seat. At first glance, Lowndes, Oktibbeha, Clay and Noxubee counties are some of the safest areas in the state. They are also a national ground zero for wrongful convictions and capital cases gone wrong. The former doesn't require the latter. Indeed, the latter is a direct threat to public safety.
As is so often the case with wrongful convictions, the true perpetrator is left free to commit additional violent acts (which is precisely what occurred in Noxubee County in the Levon Brooks and Kennedy Brewer cases) while innocent people go to prison. The cost to the community -- the entire community -- is incalculable.
Scott Colom's promised approach offers a different way of thinking about whom we punish and how. Indeed, his plan is precisely like that of the Legislature's, which is why it acted last year to fundamentally restructure its approach to criminal justice in the state, an effort that among other benefits has dramatically reduced the state's prison population, saved millions of taxpayer dollars and improved public safety.
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