Voices from the Inside Out: Millions of hostages held in the U.S.

January 8, 2024

We rightly hear about the hostages taken by Hamas, that they are emotionally damaged by their weeks of confinement. They may need counseling for life. But how often does the media talk about the thousands of hostages, innocent of any crime, who languish in America’s jails and prisons every year? Many for decades.


Cells in Alcatraz prison, San Francisco, CA. Photo: Dietmar Rabich, CC BY-SA 4.0

Law professor Dan Canon in his book, Pleading Out, wrote: “Today, American cops make around ten million arrests per year.” How many of those are based on planted or bogus evidence? In a story in the Tallahassee Democrat in 2019, Jackson Country Sheriff’s Deputy, Zachary Webster, was arrested for planting meth and other street drugs on innocent motorists he would pull over. Eventually 120 people had their charges dropped. Many had to be released from jail. From Sam Kean’s book, The Icepick Surgeon: at a lab outside of Boston, chemist Annie Dookhan was regarded as a superwoman because she could analyze suspected drug samples so fast. The results were almost always positive, which made her a darling of the prosecutors. After several years of work, some of the other chemists in the lab became suspicious. An investigation revealed that she was dry labeling (faking the results of) many of the samples.

The cat got out of the bag. Prosecutors and defense attorneys got involved. Convictions were challenged. The final result—now wait for it—the Massachusetts court overturned 21,587 convictions. At least 600 prisoners were released from jail. And! On Nov. 15, 2023, on the local Southern Colorado TV station it was reported that El Paso County crime lab chemist Yvonne Woods, a DNA analyst, was fired. No specifics were given. But it was admitted that more than 65 charges may have to be dropped.

If you are one of the publicly hated, the stigmatized, an OFFENDER, then the fact that a significant number of those of The Scarlet Letter may be innocent, no mention. If the media loves you, you get lots of sympathy for your troubles. If you are a hated class, you get ignored or portrayed as evil, the wicked of society.

–John Taylor

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