Prosecutors are the most powerful actors in the criminal justice system.
Prosecutors play a role in bail decisions, whether children should be charged as adults, whether people should be offered diversion programs to prevent criminal convictions and whether to charge specific enhancement crimes that add decades of prison time to charges. They also decide whether to prosecute police who violate the law. The consequences of those decisions can mean the difference between the success or failure of someone touched by the system and the overall safety of the community.
- Among many astonishing facts about Jonathan’s case is the fact that he was convicted without any physical evidence. Although fingerprint, footprint, and DNA evidence was collected, none belonged to Jonathan or linked him to the crime scene.
- The police used highly suggestive and improper eyewitness identification procedures and techniques. They also conducted multiple interviews with the eyewitness (victim) but failed to record the nature and content of these interviews in their reports. In fact, when the victim was hospitalized, he chose two different people other than Jonathan Irons in a photo-lineup.
- Even though he was only 16 years old at the time, Jonathan Irons was interrogated without an attorney or guardian present.
- There is evidence that shows that Jonathan Irons refused to write any statements and chose to exercise his right to remain silent. But the O’Fallon Police Department falsely reported to the media that he had made incriminating statements.
- Credible witnesses who could have provided testimony on Jonathan Iron’s whereabouts during the time of the crime were never brought to court to testify. Irons was seen two blocks away at the home of friends, which would have made it impossible for him to have committed the crime.
- On the same night of the crime, a separate burglary was reported in the neighborhood. Police reports of this burglary describe a different suspect. This suspect was seen walking through the neighborhood knocking on doors. Witnesses verified that this person was not Jonathan Irons.
Let’s bring a new vision to our justice system that moves beyond simply a result-driven finish line and instead brings a broader lens to promoting safe and healthy communities.
All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.