Monday, May 24, 2010

Update on William Richards

I posted last year in "DNA Exoneration Close to Home." The defendant's name is William Richards. His case number is FVI00826. I have not been following the case closely. But after reading some of my posts, I realized that I wanted to know what had happened with this case. Well, I found out.

According to a news artical, and then confirmed by reading the court minutes, William Richards remains in jail. The San Bernardino DA is appealing Judge McCarville's decision, I gather on the grounds that he did not have jurisdiction. In other words, even if William Richards WAS wrongly convicted (the DA does NOT concede that he was), their claim is that a California Superior Court judge lacks the power under California law to grant him a new trial. I hope that they are wrong.

But in the meantime, William Richards remains in county jail. He was transported from prison and is now in county jail. He apparently has cancer, and he is receiving treatment for cancer while in jail. This is his second bout with cancer. It would be very sad indeed if he died either while awaiting a decision from the appellate court about whether Judge McCarville's actions were correct, or pending a retrial if it comes to that.

It is unfortunate that our system comes to this: If a man is convicted, he is forever presumed guilty, and he must move heaven and earth to get someone, anyone, to hear his plea that he has been wrongly convicted. But if a man is acquitted, he will forever be suspect as having committed the crime. The search for the truth that our system is often boasted as being all about, especially those in law enforcement and prosecution circles, is far more than not a search for punishment of those of whom are convicted.

But hey, we really are getting the kind of justice that we, as a society, have publicly demanded. Laws are rarely, if ever, seen as too punitive. Rarely, if ever, is there a cry from the citizens that laws have become too harsh (and they have, in my opinion, become far too harsh). There is far more often a cry that the laws are too soft; that judges are too "soft on crime"; that legislators are "coddling criminals." We have come to a time where we have just about bankrupted our state.

What have we spent this largesse on, you might ask? Was it that we built too many schools? Staffed too many libraries? Maintain too many parks? Run too many hospitals? No, not even close. I can't wait for all of the illegal alien haters to join in and tell me how "soft" and "stupid" I am (Some are such nice folk in person, but with the anonymity of the web, their words can become like acid), and claim that it's the illegal aliens who are bankrupting us. No. It's the prisons and jails that's doing us in.

Don't worry, though. This debate will keep on going. The new discussions of "outsourcing" our prisoners to other states, or even Mexico (I'm sure that will fly with the California taxpayers - we pay to build and staff prisons in Mexico while we go bankrupt here - sure thing, Arnie!) to come in line with the 9th Circuit's ruling on overcroding and medical care is actually good for our system. I mean, why should we pay for schools? Why should we pay for universities? After all, we have all those prisons to fill.

Just a few more years of this, and the electorate of California is gonna get mighty tired of paying a fortune to house and feed "criminals." We'll see if that becomes a clarion call for getting people the hell out of prison. We'll see.

Dennis Wilkins
The Guest PD Blogger