June 13, 2024


Future Depends on What You Do

Victims’ rights advocates and criminal justice reformers are not enemies in Baltimore’s Adnan Syed situation

Adnan Syed’s authorized saga, chronicled in the hit “Serial” podcast, is a blockbuster tale, and for great motive. As an lawyer, I’ve been pursuing the several updates in this case. But as executive director of a victims’ rights business that has promoted thoughtful and secure reform attempts for a long time, I’ve been dismayed to see a troubling — and frankly, false — narrative develop in modern months: that there’s a rising divide involving advocates of victims’ legal rights and criminal justice reform.

When Syed’s murder conviction in the 1999 slaying of Baltimore County high university college student Hae Min Lee was vacated since of prosecutorial and investigative failures, the headlines understandably started off pouring in. And they stored coming as the conviction was reinstated — probable temporarily — by a state appellate court docket previous month for the reason that a decreased Maryland courtroom did not give Lee’s household associates enough notice of a important listening to foremost to Syed’s release.

Some of the headlines were dumbfounding, specially an Associated Push write-up titled “Adnan Syed circumstance pits victims’ rights in opposition to justice reform,” which was carried on the net and in publications throughout the U.S.

The real truth is that there is a whole lot of popular ground between the ambitions of victims’ legal rights advocates and all those pushing for prison justice reform. These “us vs. them” narratives, while presumably handy for attracting visitors, are unfortunately fostering a bogus feeling of conflict and deepening a divide between two sides that eventually want the exact thing: justice and therapeutic.

Let us start off with the fundamentals: Victims’ legal rights and criminal justice reform are not mutually unique.

In truth, the bulk of crime victims and survivors want legal justice reform that consists of avoidance and rehabilitation. An Alliance for Security and Justice survey produced in 2016 uncovered that 1 in 3 victims want people today who commit crimes to acquire rehabilitation, mental health and fitness treatment method, drug treatment and local community service instead of just incarceration.

Let us not overlook that several persons who are incarcerated are themselves victims of criminal offense — and they have even less rights, advocates or services out there to them.

Polarizing narratives about the need for victims’ rights and the will need for prison justice reform remaining opposed will only harm the reform motion. Both equally survivors and justice-included individuals — together with their respective advocates — want to be concerned for improvements to be thriving.

In this specific situation, the appellate court’s ruling was a reflection of the state of Maryland’s failure to uphold its personal constitutional prerequisite to take care of victims with dignity and respect. It wasn’t a ruling on Syed’s innocence or guilt, and the decision was absolutely not the fault of Hae Min Lee’s household members.

Survivors, victims of crimes and their family members have a right to speak at these types of hearings. It’s a vital aspect of their therapeutic approach. At the identical time, the state’s failure to thoroughly involve a victim’s relatives does not suggest a person who may perhaps have been wrongfully convicted should continue being incarcerated.

Glance no additional than the AP posting mentioned above to see why this divisive narrative is counterproductive.

None of the victim’s family associates or advocates were quoted. The author did not even point out Hae Min Lee’s name right until the 10th paragraph.

And that arrived just after a unstable quotation from College of Maryland regulation professor David Colbert, who termed the victims’ rights motion “a incredibly strong foyer that wants a reserve seat at the head of the prison justice table” and claimed the appellate court’s ruling “certainly seems to fulfill their agenda.”

That is flat-out erroneous. As a victims’ legal rights group, we want survivors and victims to have that “reserve seat,” alongside with all who are instantly impacted, and to be truly read — or, at the extremely least, basically interviewed for articles or blog posts in which victims’ legal rights are becoming immediately implicated.

Renée Williams ([email protected]) is the executive director of the Countrywide Heart for Victims of Crime.