Though i learned a great deal from the 2009 sociology meetings, I was disappointed to hear a distinguished colleague suggest that "everybody in prison has committed crime" and that everyone he'd met in prison had drug issues.
My own experiences, and those of my pubcrim colleagues like Michelle Inderbitzin, are different. I'm no judge and i've got no special skills evaluating ballistics or other forensic evidence. Nevertheless, I've met enough men like Philip Scott Cannon to be especially careful about making generalizations about guilt or substance use. When I talked to Mr. Cannon this spring, he was fighting his conviction with a degree of calm and patience that was truly inspiring. I can't vouch for his innocence, but I know enough to raise serious questions about the evidence that convicted him. Today, after he'd spent a full decade in prison, his conviction was overturned. As Michelle writes,
he is no longer convicted, but he was still indicted on these charges and he will be transferred to the county jail to await a new trial. i only hope the district attorney doesn’t keep him waiting in county jail – where his youngest son will not be allowed to visit him – for long.
philip’s case reminds me that justice is messy, very human, and sometimes mistaken. i’m appalled it’s taken more than ten years for his conviction to be overturned, but relieved and glad that he’s getting a second chance to go to trial and have all of the evidence heard. i do hope justice is ultimately served.