By Scott Tibbs, June 24, 2011
The Indiana Daily Student's article about how Indiana University is "among the worst in the nation" in gaining convictions for sexual assault is symptomatic of one of the fundamental problems of our criminal justice system. Getting convictions should never in and of itself be the goal of law enforcement. The goal should be to see that justice is done.
False reports of rape do happen. Four years ago, a 19-year-old IU student fabricated a kidnapping and "rape." She later recanted her story and admitted that she "engaged in consensual sex with a man at a local motel." (Herald-Times, March 30, 2007) Who can forget the Duke lacrosse scandal, where a stripper fabricated a "rape" that never took place and engaged in a criminal conspiracy with disgraced, disbarred ex-prosecutor Mike Nifong to railroad men for a crime that never happened? Let's not forget that the "university" immediately took the side of the false accuser.
Worse, the Obama Administration has issued new regulations calling for universities to consider "a preponderance of the evidence" in rape cases, rather than the traditional standard of beyond a reasonable doubt. Does President Obama understand basic American values and the principle of innocent until proven guilty?
But the problem is more widespread than that. We have seen story after story about people who have been convicted of crimes they did not commit, and released after decades in prison when serious flaws in their convictions came to light. In some cases, those convictions were based on corrupt prosecutors deliberately hiding evidence so they could "win" a conviction at the expense of justice.
The Innocence Project has a list of people who have been wrongfully convicted and has worked tirelessly to help secure the release of people who have committed no crime.
Rapists who are convicted after a fair trial by a jury of their peers should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. There may be things that can be done to ensure that rapists do not get away with their crimes. But the goal should NEVER under any circumstances be "more convictions." The goal should always be justice.