Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Can I get a material witness?

Real quick: this piece accompanied a story by Sarah Stillman on The New Yorker website yesterday, about material witnesses (victims, or witnesses of a crime, that are essential to the prosecution of the suspect). It details the way authorities around the country jail innocent victims of crimes in order to secure testimony from them. In some cases, material witnesses have been jailed for years.

It is due to an arcane statute, based on the rational reasoning that criminals should not go free because no one is available to testify against them. However, it is used overwhelmingly against minorities, the poor and homeless, and often times against victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Read the piece here. The sad part is just how many stories nowadays involving the criminal "justice" system in the U.S. can be described as Kafkaesque. From episodes like these, to Guantanamo Bay, to the story of Kalief Browder, to so many others. Thanks to my AD, Kara!