The Central Park Five, a new film from award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns, tells the story of the five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem who were wrongly convicted of raping a white woman in New York City’s Central Park in 1989. The film chronicles The Central Park Jogger case, for the first time from the perspective of these five teenagers whose lives were upended by this miscarriage of justice.
The story of the Central Park Five raises important questions about race and class, the failings of our criminal justice system, legal protections for vulnerable juveniles, and basic human rights.
I think any person with a career in law enforcement, criminal justice, or journalism should be REQUIRED to watch this movie. I also think every citizen that may ever serve on a jury should be required to watch it.
I watched this movie last night, and it cut me to the core. I like to think that most people are good, that most people strive to become better and more enlightened beings, but that is not always the case. The criminal element will always exist. The need for a criminal and legal system will never go away. Those with the power to arrest, convict and prosecute should be held to a high standard -- we trust them to keep us safe and to deal fairly and effectively with those that commit crimes. They have big responsibilities, and they should be made to face serious consequences when they willfully thwart or impede justice and shirk their sworn responsibilities.
Watch the movie if you get a chance. You can find it on PBS in the United States, and/or purchase the DVD here.
Note: text in italics found here.