Lessons that must be learned
Wednesday, Jul 29, 2009
* The Sun-Times looks back on the Brian Dugan case, including the indictment of innocent men…
The Daily Herald has long been an open booster of the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s office, regularly assigning cheerleaders instead of reporters to cover the beat. The paper has been silent on its editorial page so far this week.
* During debates over the death penalty, many will insist that the ultimate punishment should be set aside for the worst offenders. Kidnapping, raping and murdering a little girl would undoubtedly fall into anyone’s category of the worst of the worst. What the Nicarico case showed Illinois, however, is that the system is human-operated and is therefore far from perfect. Sometimes, it can be brutally wrong.
* This case should also be a lesson for journalism. A Daily Herald timeline of the Dugan case fails to point out the impact made by the early, false, screaming headlines about the wrongly arrested men, for instance.
Prosecutors are too often treated by the media as though their every word comes from the mouth of God. Humans are humans. We make mistakes. Sometimes we refuse to admit mistakes. So, flawed humans cannot ever be given the complete benefit of the doubt.
* The same goes for the police. I’m a big supporter of society’s frontline protectors, and firmly believe that they should be given the benefit of the doubt in most situations. We need their service…
But they are humans, too. They’re not always in the right, and they are citizens like the rest of us. So, they should never escape accountability, as the DuPage establishment eventually learned the hard way.
To always treat prosecutors and police as infallible undermines the very fabric of a democratic society. If we learn nothing else from the Dugan case, it should be that.