Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Why Casey Anthony Didn't Win

As angry as everyone following the Casey Anthony case may be, I actually think the Not Guilty verdict may be far worse for her than she or her family have imagined.

Look at it this way. If she had been judged Guilty, she would go to jail. I don't think she'd get the death penalty; she's young and obviously weak. Everyone would feel vindicated and jubilant, and in 20+ years when she was paroled, the worst of the anger and desire for vengeance would have subsided and there would be little interest. She could live quietly, and at least she would be regarded as having paid her debt to society.

But as a person perceived as guilty by the majority of society (I've not heard of anyone who believes she is innocent) who "got off scot-free", she will be rejected and shunned by society. I doubt anyone would ever hire her for a job again. The fact that even her parents have had death threats is an indicator of how strongly people hate her right now. No one will ever allow her around their children, I would be very surprised if she ever has another date in her life, and I can just imagine her showing up at one of the nightclubs she used to go to... the appalled hush that would fall over the room, the turned backs. And that's just the mild response... there are always people who take vigilante justice too far, and her life will doubtless be threatened for a while to come.

I'm not exactly surprised at the jury's decision. Although everything "gestures" to her, the actual, tangible evidence that proves she killed her baby just isn't there. And I am actually comforted that our legal system would rather err on the side of letting the guilty go free, rather than send the innocent to jail. That's one of the wonders of our legal system, and I am grateful that we can have a questionable Innocent verdict, as opposed to one based on popular opinion. When the Lindbergh baby was kidnapped, they executed a man who very possibly was innocent. This judgment 75 years later, with a similarly tragic case, I find encouraging and an indication of maturity.

Five years ago, I might not have thought this. I was inclined to believe that where there's smoke, there's fire, and that anyone who was in jail was genuinely guilty. But then I learned of Eric Volz, and the sham arrest, trial and conviction he suffered in Nicaragua for murder, and I realized that mistakes are made, and popular opinion allowed to influence trials. Eric was so patently innocent - and all evidence and witnesses to that innocence was discarded and ignored so that evil people could get revenge on America... or protect the real murderer... or score political points. Anything but justice was the goal.

So I don't mind so much that Casey Anthony is going to go free. Because I would rather the guilty go free than the innocent be imprisoned, and I believe that society will probably be far crueler to her than any prison cell could be.

I know, I know, these 2 opinions do not match up!