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Discrimination-Disparity Continuum, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 1458

Essay

Abstract

Many cases are presented to juries to determine the fate of the defendants.  Many of these cases have clear cut facts that provide an easy transition from the freedom of the defendant to the conviction and imprisonment of that individual.  Through the course of the judicial system process there is the potential for mistakes to occur and innocent people to serve unnecessary imprisonment terms based upon evidence that wrongfully incriminates them.  The facts of the case may not be as clear or beyond a reasonable doubt based solely on the evidence in front of the jury but this evidence could be fueled by discriminatory motives.  Through projects such as the Innocent Project many of these wrongfully convicted defendants are granted their freedom but not without a cost.  Cornelius Dupree was wrongfully convicted and served 30 years in prison with one year additionally on parole before he was exonerated through DNA evidence.

Origins of the Case

The basis of the case was that of a rape and robbery of a young woman in late 1979.  The young woman was using a payphone near a liquor store in Dallas, Texas when two men approached her.  Her male counterpart was leaving the liquor store and both were forced into their car at gunpoint.  Along the route the two perpetrators forced the male counterpart out of the vehicle and kept the female in the car.  Then as the two men arrived at the park they proceeded to rape the female at gunpoint both leaving DNA evidence.  The female then was thrown back to the ground and the males continued to rob her of her fur coat and remaining cash.

Later a patrol officer found the lady and resuscitated her.  At the hospital the rape kit examination was completed in which swabs, combings, clippings, blood and semen samples were collected.  All of the samples were properly tagged and tested.  The perpetrators were not initially picked up by the police and only the general descriptions by the victims, store clerks and by-standards were used.

The following week Cornelius Dupree and his friend Anthony Massingill were frequenting the same establishment where the initial abduction and robbery occurred.  The two were stopped by police based upon the descriptions provided not for the case in which Cornelius Dupree was ultimately convicted but for another case that was not associated with the robbery and rape case.  The two were picked up by the police not because of the suspicion of the rape charges but because Massingill was carrying a concealed weapon.  The two were then booked and their photos were added to lineups for other crimes committed in the area.  During this review of photos the pictures were presented to the rape and robbery victims.  The female victim selected the two as the perpetrators from a stack of photos but neither the male nor any other witness visually selected the two as the culprits.

Conviction

During trial both of the victims identified Dupree and Massingil but there were some variability between their identification and what they actually did during the crimes (Innocent Project, 2011).  The male victim stated that he could not identify the victims initially due to poor eyesight but at the trial the eyesight was better.  The female victim also did not have her prescription corrective eyewear on during the execution of the crime.  The prosecution pushed that fact that the photo identification was a clear distinction between the two black males that committed the crime and those two black males that did not meet the parameters of the descriptions that were sitting in the court room.  The defense for Dupree focused on the potential for cross-racial misidentification in which individuals of the same race have the same features and attributes and could be easily misidentified by someone.  This is especially true if the person providing the description was providing the information based upon data collected during a highly strenuous instance such as the rape.

During this case the deliberation came down to what he jury had to say regarding the crimes committed and whether or not the evidence supported a conviction or release.  The jury found Dupree guilty of aggravated robbery.  They did not continue the case for the rape due to a motion filed by the prosecution to mitigate future efforts for the conviction because a conviction of rape would not add an increased sentence to the already 75 year sentence imposed.  This is a key factor in the case because the rape was not fully processed and neither the DNA samples from the rape kit nor the other evidence from the activities would be vetted out during deliberation of the case.  The key connection between the activity of the rape and the robbery which occurred in the same crime scenario would not be connected and show that Dupree did not commit the rape.  DNA evidence did not hold the same level of authority that it holds today due to the scientific advancements that have occurred in the last 30-40 years.  Since he was convicted of aggravated robbery the potentially freeing evidence from the rape charge would not be admitted in court and Dupree would be sentenced to 75 years in the penitentiary.  Dupree was never officially convicted of rape and he never admitted to the charge although doing so would provide the option for parole.  Instead he retained his innocence of the charges for over 30 years.

Drive behind the Convection

The conviction itself was based on the evidence of eye witnesses and the evidence itself was not 100% air tight.  There were stories that did not match; identity descriptions that did not line up and misidentification of the subjects during the trial.  While all of these areas were presented during the trial, Cornelius Dupree was still convicted.  The conviction can be interpreted in different ways.  Throughout the process there were areas that contributed to the wrongful conviction of Dupree and this could have been fueled by neglect, pressure to find the perpetrator, racism or a combination of all aspects.  The type of discrimination that presented its ugly head was that of a contextual nature.  Throughout the entire process Dupree and his counterpart was pushed through the process like pawns in a chess game.  All-the-while they were moving closer and closer toward a wrongful conviction although each step they took toward the trial and conviction did not fully implicate or prove that they were guilty of the charges.

During the course of the judicial process there were key process oriented occurrences that led to the misidentification of Dupree as the criminal who raped and robbed those two individuals in 1979.  The first is the lineup of pictures that were group together in pairs depicting the perpetrators.  When the victim selected the two from the picture ensemble they were presented in a way that showed them as a group.  This goes against police lineup best practices according to standards outlined in the Dallas, Texas police protocol.  The reason for this best practice guideline is to limit the amount of misidentifications and by grouping individuals together there is an inherent increase in the rate of misidentifications due to the potential misappropriate of features across multiple parties in the lineup.  The next area is the fact that the DNA evidence was not prepared and ready for the initial part of the trial (Hudson, 2011).  It was scheduled to be ran and delivered two weeks after the conviction.  This request was cancelled due to the fact that the prosecution filed a motion to not proceed with the trial for the rape because it would not add any discernible time to the conviction.  This move initially was backed by justification on saving time, effort and funding for the state but lead to the conviction and future roadblocks for Dupree’s parole or re-trial.

Throughout the entire judicial process there were times that discriminatory actions exacerbated the situation.  This started with the initial arrest of the two men based on a generic racial profile of two black men of normal height and build.  This description was based on a totally different case but allowed the police to seize the opportunity and arrest these young men.  Then based on an inadequate identification Dupree was sentenced to 75 years and spent his formidable years behind bars in the Dallas, Texas institution (Simon, 2011).  The system failed them in multiple ways starting with the aforementioned bad police practices, bias of the victims and jury to find an offender and the lack of protection Dupree had due to his race and societal stance in Dallas, Texas.

References

Hudson, J. (2011). Lessons learned from Cornelius dupree’s 30-year wrongful conviction.). Retrieved from
http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2011/01/lessons-learned-from-cornelius-dupree-s-30-year-wrongful-conviction/21630/

Innocent Project. (2011). Know the cases. cornelius dupree. Retrieved from:  http://www.innocenceproject.org/Content/Cornelius__Dupree.php

Simon, M. (2011). Innocent man jailed in texas since 1979 now free. Basingstoke: Retrieved from: http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/01/04/innocent-man-jailed-since-1979-likely-to-be-freed/

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