Making connections within

Reading through my peers’ blogs, made me realized we are touching on a lot of the same things. I noticed that my question about once you’re set free or are you still guilty, had similar connections to Nikki’s question. We all have similar thoughts and questions that I think we could all work off of.

I found that Nikki and I both used one of the same sources. I found it interesting that she viewed that article in a different aspect from me. Using the same article made me think of questions I hadn’t thought of before and I think that really helped a lot on questioning some of the things I was questioning. I also realized that throughout my blogs, questions about first impressions was brought up, so I see a lot of connections. For most part, I see that Nikki is questioning the justice system similarly to what I have been doing. If I had to complicate her inquiry blogs, I would say that maybe for her question about impressions, she should focus on the psychology aspect of why we make first impression and why they matter. Also, I feel like her two questions relate so maybe she should look at how they connect.

Abigail used a lot of past cases which I thought was great because she not only focused on articles/ facts about the inquiry topic but went deeper into actual cases. Like Nikki and I, Abigail also questioned on the fairness of our judicial/ justice system. On one of her blogs she questions, “are we out of control or under control?” (referring to the government and the citizens), this question really struck me and made me wonder what was true. She mentioned statistics from a TedTalks video that made me wonder if the funds the judicial systems has, has anything to do with my question on evidence. I would like to see her branch off into things like the consequences of race/ religion.

Overall, I liked reflecting on my work through the work of my peers’. It helped me make connections from my inquiry to their inquiries. I can see their work helping my work grow. It also made me realize I should make deeper connections to my inquiry topics. I think that I’ve just touched the surface with these questions and that I can and should go further. All of our work has in a way interconnected with one another.

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Reflecting

1. Identify

  • A new lenses → new perspective
  • start in a place of free writing but it should be in depth and edited
  • Vignette: you shouldn’t story tell
  • Do you haven’t to be changed in the moment of your reflection? No not really, it needs to be a moment where you can derive meaning from it NOW
  •  Present a moment that at the time didn’t seem important but really has a lot of meaning now

2. Analyze

  •  Why did things play out the way they did?
  • What more was at play

3. Identify

  • looks for the larger learning experiences
  • “what’s at stake?”

-Memory is part of reflection…memory is nested within memory

Going beyond ‘innocent until proven guilty’

As this inquiry project is proceeding, so is the amount of information about this topic. I have found different articles who are arguing that ‘innocent until proven guilty’ is in fact ‘guilty until proven innocent’ while others argue that is ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ As I’ve read articles, I realized that it is important to understand that each author has it biased information that will entice the reader to agree with their article.

The first article I found was from TedTalks, 6 talks on the phenomena behind wrongful convictions. I really liked this article because it talked about how many people have been convicted as a result of wrong “evidence.” Scott Fraser, a forensic psychologist, explains that sometimes evidence can be swayed by our own mind. The writer focuses on how convictions can be wrongful and how things should change. This article relates to my topic because being proven innocent takes much evidence and sometimes there isn’t enough evidence in your favor which causes you to be seen guilty. This article goes further into my question about evidence not being enough or how do we know what is enough evidence. While reading this article, it made me wonder how many cases had been convicted for something they didn’t commit and how much evidence it took to convict them? These questions correlate with my previous questions on how much is enough evidence. I feel like maybe I should look into how witnesses have an affect on evidence. Although I really liked this article, I did realize that the writer’s frame was only towards those who were convicted with wrongful evidence, but what about those who weren’t convicted without/with wrongful evidence?

The second article I found, from the library, that seemed very interesting to me was Debating the Precautionary Principle: “Guilty until Proven Innocent” or “Innocent until Proven Guilty”?. I thought it was very interesting because it focused on the difference between the two statements from above while relating it to plant physiology. Henk van den Belt, the author of this article, presents a question that I believe relates to my topic of evidence, “We cannot consider GMOs harmless until the absence of harmful effects is fully proven.” What I think he is saying is that without evidence being fully proven, you cannot consider someone guilty or innocent. Going back to evidence, how are we able to prove such evidence, if it’s already used against the suspect? How do we know that the evidence proves anything? The writer’s frame here focuses on how we expect more and more proof just so that we don’t convict someone who is innocent; the writer also focuses on the “inevitable trade-off involved in the design of our system of criminal justice.” This relates to my topic because evidence is something we heavily rely on to prove that someone isn’t guilty or innocent. I think for this topic we should also look at how the criminal justice has evolved/changed throughout the years. 

The third article I found that questions the presumption of innocence is Criminal Labels, the European Convention on Human Rights and the Presumption of Innocence. This article really intrigued me because the author talks about how presumption shouldn’t be applied until after the person is charged. The author states that “though a high standard of proof does not prescribe precisely how people should be treated, a primary reason for this second element of the presumption is to guard against illegitimate convictions, given that the conviction and punishment of an innocent person is deemed to cause more harm than the avoidance of liability by a guilty person,” I really like how the author points out the the proof we find about the individual shouldn’t be a way for us to write them off with whatever label. This article touches my topic on how people aren’t really free after they are set free because before the case even ends people have already judged them from the start. I found that maybe I should focus on why people are so quick to judge other people. This article really focused on the judgement of people and the how presumption of innocence should be the goal.

The final article I found was Why our justice system convicts innocent people, and the challenges faced by innocent projects trying to exonerate them. Krieger, the author, writes about the difficulties with trying to prove your innocence in our justice system. He states that we really don’t know how many people who are convicted are truly innocent or the other way around. Krieger looks into how we’ve become very reliable on DNA testing to prove innocence or guilty. He gives an example of how a man was convicted because he matched the description of the suspect, he continues to show how this case was not fair in any way shape or form. From this I question, whether our “justice system” is really on our side or are they against us from the get go? I also wonder if our justice system is truly just? This applies to my topic of evidence and how evidence isn’t fair or enough to convict someone. The writer’s frame is focused on the wrongdoing of evidence and how innocent people continue to be convicted of crimes they didn’t commit.

Writer’s frame?

  • From the reading I really liked how they described it as a “frame” and when you take a picture you focus on the people who are going to be in the picture, not the background.
  • Frame from the article about college: it left out college education major without monetary, it narrows done on not only a certain age which shows they’re bias toward the topic. They do this so that the readers AGREE with them? But why does it only include XYZ?
  • Example→ Christopher Columbus seen as a hero but he isn’t really that hero everyone says he is. Indians were slaves but nobody cares to see the way they were affected when the “New World” was “discovered”
  • Lenses through which, when ones gone you notice it → writers frame

The complicated areas of being innocent until proven guilty

“Innocent until proven guilty” is a statement pretty much all Americans are familiar with since we’ve always been taught that. “Guilty until proven innocent” becomes much download (1)more of a norm in society today. Why aren’t we giving people the benefit of the thought nowadays? What has changed us that makes us question their “truthfulness”? Or better yet what influences our thoughts on the suspect? I think that over the years police/courts systems have changed drastically. Different things are influencing the decision of someone’s innocence. And is that fair? This issue, I believe, has not gotten the attention it should get because people today are being convicted of things they didn’t commit or the other way around. Why should we even have to question the decision of the court? How has this system grown to be what it is now and how is our system “efficient”?

The Huffington Post describes the term “innocent until proven guilty” as the “bedrock principle of American justice.” But what is the principle of American justice? What makes this the “bedrock” or better yet the “principle”? Also, who decides that this is the principle? What defines American justice?  (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-abrams/presumed-innocent-bernie_b_170933.html) I think that innocent until proven guilty being described as the “bedrock” of American justice is interesting. Different people have different opinions on whether this is the case. According to this part of the article, American justice is defined by the term innocent until proven guilty, but there more to the American justice than just this term.

The first question I mainly focused on was: Is the evidence we find/have enough to convict or not convict the person? I think this is a hard question because what defines “enough evidence”? How do you measure what is usable evidence and what is not? An article I read made the statement,”Most people rightly consider the system as slanted.. chief of which is the requirement that the person is presumed innocent until the government meets the highest burden of proof known in American law: proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to a moral certainty.” (http://stimmel-law.com/criminaljustice_us.html) Who accounts for the “highest burden of proof”? How much is enough evidence? What if there isn’t any evidence, what happens then? When I read this, it makes me believe that the government is only looking for evidence that will show guilt in the suspect. Is all evidence used fairly toward trial? Maybe we should look deeper into what defines evidence as. I think evidence is a tricky aspect of a trial. Evidence can be used to hurt or benefit the suspect. “Flip the criminal presumption of innocence by presuming that claimants are guilty until they can prove their innocence by a preponderance of the evidence or by clear and convincing evidence.” (http://repository.law.umich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1102&context=mjlr) If we look at the issue from this perspective, what makes the evidence “clear”? What is there isn’t clear evidence? Do we let the suspect go or detain them until we find it? There has been many cases where people have been detained in jail for years because there wasn’t clear evidence. Do we have the right, in our “efficient” system, to hold people until we have conveying evidence?

The second question I focused on was: After you are set “free”, are you really free? Or does the public still consider you to be guilty? This correlates with the presumptions people make when they hear about a case. We write people off as being guilty or innocent right of the bat. I believe if you are presumed guilty by people from the beginning of the case, you will continue to be guilty for pretty much the rest of your life. Judgement is hard to erase from our mind, so once we make a judgement it will be there forever especially if the case is something sensitive. “It’s generally inadmissible in court, and yet most of us live our lives based on what people we trust tell us they heard or learned. Demanding that all of us presume every defendant innocent outside of a courtroom is to demand that we stop evaluating facts, thereby suffocating independent thought and opinion.” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-abrams/presumed-innocent-bernie_b_170933.html) Why is it hard to presume the suspect as innocent? Or does it go further into the vocabulary we use such as “suspect”? When we use the word “suspect,” that automatically makes me think they’re guilty? Have words evolved so much that we have think of a word and make a connection to another? Do we have the right to continue saying they are guilty even after all evidence says they are not? What is more important our opinion on the person or the actual case? Maybe we should look into what the psychological effects the “suspect” goes through as a result of judgments everyone perceives. We should look at how the judgments may have an affect on the case itself, does it sway the judge or jury? “It is critical to remember that “innocent until proven guilty” is a legal term and that just because a person is viewed  under the law as “innocent” does not mean that they did not commit the offense. It simply means that a jury was unable to unanimously agree that the government was able to prove the crime beyond and to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt.” (http://boz.religionnews.com/2015/01/16/innocent-proven-guilty-really-mean/) I think that the question that really struck me when I read this from an article was: Is there a difference between being ‘innocent’ and being ‘not guilty’? In my opinion there are consequences for being “not guilty” vs. being innocent. I think being guilty implies that there wasn’t enough evidence to convict them but the possibility of them having done the crime is still there. Being innocent could imply that you really didn’t have anything to do with the crime. Why don’t we also say that if a person is viewed as guilty then maybe they didn’t commit the crime? I think it is important we look at how words have an affect. Why does it have to mean that there wasn’t enough evidence to convict you instead of you were just innocent period?

Drawing a red line with a green marker?

  • Is discourse communities seen as foreign to students? I think that students aren’t foreign to discourse communities because they’re pretty much clubs but as students we don’t know them as a “discourse community.”  So the term is what is foreign.
  • I think this class in general, has changed my way of viewing writing because in high school we had a set of standards and we aren’t really allowed to take our own style. Now here my perspective on writing has changed in way that is not boring or difficult but more interesting and fun.
  • How do we define academic writing? And do we bring those skills into college?
  • How do you respond to a boss who emails you angry about a job not getting done in on time? Do you respond angry or wait 15 minutes to get a good response? What kind of discourse would you use?
  • You should distinguish between certain communities because although they have the same characteristics, they are different. Consider which community you are in and which one you are talking to.
  • Different communities are different so it can be difficult to speak to another.

Is there more to being “innocent until proven guilty”?

For a country that claims to always give everyone a fair trial and presumes them innocent until proven guilty, we have lost the ability to give anyone the benefit of the doubt. This has become a controversy, as new cases arise we begin to question whether innocent until proven guilty is really in fact true.

When you’re set free, are you really free? Or does everyone still think you’re guilty? I think this questions is always something we all think especially whenever we know that the person is truly guilty but are set free. From the get go we all make presumptions about the person, and we like to write them off as guilty or innocent. I think this question is hard to answer because there are different instances where the person really is innocent. When this question was brought up, I immediately thought of the movie Gone Girl. This movie is about a “happily” married couple. On their 50th anniversary, the wife goes missing. Of course, the husband is automatically seen as a suspect (so we assume he did something to her). So they arrest him and there is a lot of evidence that could convict him but in the end they let him go, the town still believes he had something to do with her disappearance. I would continue to tell you about the movie but I don’t want to spoil it for you if you haven’t seen it (it’s a great movie)! I think this movie is a great example of how we automatically make assumptions and we do this because we think that all this evidence has to mean they are guilty. Many of the articles I read expressed that we as humans automatically judge people and they discuss whether making an assumption of the suspect is right. So I think the question goes further into do assumptions affect you even after you’re set free?

Is the evidence always enough to convict people? Evidence can be very beneficial to the suspect or VERY convicting at times. I read an article that really interested me and I thought it really touched on this question. “It is critical to remember that “innocent until proven guilty” is a legal term and that just because a person is viewed  under the law as “innocent” does not mean that they did not commit the offense.  It simply means that a jury was unable to unanimously agree that the government was able to prove the crime beyond and to the exclusion of all reasonable doubt.” I thought this statement was very clear that evidence isn’t enough sometimes. Even though we many think that person is guilty, evidence will not be sufficient. Or the other way, sometimes evidence will seem to be enough to convict the person. I think further and question how do we know what is enough evidence or what isn’t enough? Does the court always use all the evidence provided or do they pick what they believe will help/convict the suspect after they have made their own assumptions of the suspect?

Sources:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ruth-grant/innocent-until-proven-gui_b_1166054.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-abrams/presumed-innocent-bernie_b_170933.html

http://boz.religionnews.com/2015/01/16/innocent-proven-guilty-really-mean/