Monday, May 20, 2013

Is the justice system blase about injustice?

Imagine that you are a police commander, a judge, or the elected district attorney. You learn that an evidentiary tool that is used by your personnel, or the witnesses who testify before you, is unreliable. What do you do? Do you try to stop the use of that tool? Or are you content to continue to allow it to be used -- perhaps to convict the innocent or equally bad, free the guilty?

McClatchy Newspapers have found that one of the common types of "polygraphs," popularly known as a lie detector, was known to be unreliable for years, but continued to be used. Many in the justice system knew of reliability problems but did nothing about it. Other agencies claim they did not know about the problem.

Despite the scientific skepticism, intelligence and law enforcement agencies see polygraph as useful in obtaining confessions to wrongdoing that wouldn’t otherwise be uncovered. Fifteen federal agencies and many police departments across the country rely on polygraph testing to help make hiring or firing decisions. Sex offenders and other felons often undergo testing to comply with probation or court-ordered psychological treatment. Police detectives and prosecutors rule out criminal suspects who pass and scrutinize those who don’t.

I think the answer to my question, "Is the justice system blase about injustice?" is yes. Who, in the system, has a conviction that the courts will usually and routinely come up with the right answer and a just resolution? I don't think that is widely held. I think most who work in the criminal justice system are inured to injustice. It is kind of like the adage you sometimes hear in government agencies, "Close enough for government work."

One scientist is quoted saying,
“The insidious thing is that this phenomenon biases tests against the innocent, and the government knows that,” said Honts, who’s worked on research for a Lafayette competitor. “This is just another example of science being ignored.”

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Doug Williams said...

I have proved the polygraph is nothing but a sick joke - go to my website click on MEDIA and watch the CBS 60 MINUTES program. In that investigative report, 3 out of 3 innocent truthful people were called liars on a crime that never even happened.

It is ironic that, since the passage of the EMPLOYEE POLYGRAPH PROTECTION ACT in 1988, if these applicants were in the private sector, administering a polygraph as a condition of employment would be a FEDERAL CRIME!

Doug Williams said...

I was instrumental in getting the polygraph outlawed in the private sector - with the passage of the EMPLOYEE POLYGRAPH PROTECTION ACT, pre-employment polygraph testing became a federal crime! So what explains this schizophrenia in the government? They outlaw the polygraph in one area and expand it in another! I'm afraid I know - I think President Nixon told us why the government uses it when he said, "I don't know anything about polygraphs, and I don't know how accurate they are, but I know they'll scare the hell out of people, and that's why I like to use them!" I have proved the polygraph is not a "lie detector", so there is no justification for the government to continue to use it on the pretext that it protects our national security - and when you factor in all the damage done to people who are falsely branded as liars by these con men and their unconscionable conduct, the fraud perpetrated by the polygraph industry should be a federal crime in every instance! Everyone deserves to be protected from this insidious Orwellian instrument of torture! Shame on anyone who administers these "tests" - and shame on the government for allowing this state sponsored sadism!

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