The Central Park Five

The Central Park Five

Introduction

In more than twenty years ago, this rape case had rolled the city of New York, subsequently attracting racial tension as well as spreading widely frustrations and fear regarding that pervasive crime that was coupled with extreme violence (Films Media Group, 2014). Having brutally beaten and violently raped the investment banker who was the jogger and the victim in the case barely survived the ordeal. It is after the attack that the five Latino and Black teenage boys that were consequently implicated in that attack. After trying to recant in vain, the five teenage boys got convicted (Films Media Group, 2014). The media played a huge role in the investigations and trial of these teenage boys by latching into made up narratives of how roving gangs of kids were attacking and violently injuring unsuspecting victims in New York’s Central Park where they beat, robbed or brutally doing worse things on them (Films Media Group, 2014).

More than a decade later, the confessions of a serial rapists coupled with matching DNA evidence was enough rove regarding the innocence of the five men who were wrongfully convicted (Park & Hong, 2012). Consequently, they were released from prison and had their convictions vacated after filing a lawsuit against the New York City, prosecutors and police officers involved in their case, three of these five men send considerable time in prison (Park & Hong, 2012). Up to this resent date, these men have not successfully had justice sway on their side despite their anguish, pain, public shame and wasted years in prison.

This central park case is classic example of consequences of wrongful criminal convictions. This case suggests that a confession towards a crime is the most iron rove of an individual’s guilt (Park & Hong, 2012). Howe ever, it begs to ask why individuals in their right mind would confess towards a crime that they had not committed. At the same time, the above case analysis begs to investigate why all the five teenage boys confessed towards the same crime. It is worth to note that 25% of all innocent individuals or defendants who got exonerated using evidence such as DNA usually end u making full on confessions or incriminating statements (Park & Hong, 2012).

The above findings are based on findings regarding research conducted by Innocent Projects. Moreover, a significant number of defendants who normally confess to crimes that they did not commit have mental health challenges or mentally challenged (Dennis & Harris, 2002). As evidenced by the central park jogger case, adolescents and children also routinely fall victims of wrongful convictions as a result of false confessions as they do not fully understand their individual rights, especially during police interrogations. Since 1692, false confessions are considered an American tradition since the famous fifty women falsely confessed to crimes of witchcraft during Salem trial (Dennis & Harris, 2002).

Conviction and Eventual Exoneration

Early morning of April 20, 1989, individuals discovered the body of a woman badly beaten and barely clinging to life as it was left for death because of a violent encounter. The victim was a 28-year-old white female jogger (Dennis & Harris, 2002).  The victim’s name was Trisha Meili who was lucy to survive the grave injuries including a coma that she had succumbed to Dennis, P., & Harris, N. P. (2002.  In addition, Meili had lost her memory as she could not offer any details regarding evens of that morning. After many hours of psychological pressure and torture,  the five defendants Richardson aged 14, McCray 15, Santana 14, Salaam 14 and Wise aged 16 implicated themselves op that particular crime (Spielberg,  Koepp,  Attenborough,  Goldblum,  Dern,  Peck, … Universal Studios Home Entertainment (Firm), 2015). After undergoing intensive or aggressive interrogation they admitted to beating and raping Trisha Mealoi i at seasoned homicide detectives’ hands.

This led to the development of media frenzy and a lot of public interest in regards to he five defendants (Spielberg et al., 2015).  In fact, the public generated increasing outcry for justice to be served for the victim.  This led the judicial system to try the five teenage defendants as adults under the laws governing the New York judicial system. As a result, the five defendants were convicted despite the fact that the  trial was marred with significant inaccurate and inconsistent confessions given by the five defendants, DNA evidence presented also excluded them as well as fact the trial did not account for an eye witnesses that connected the victim to the defendants (Spielberg et al., 2015).

Justice Charles J. Tejada who was a Supreme Court judge in New York state settled  on a motion that suggested to vacate the 13year old convictions in this infamous case on December 19, 2002 (Spielberg et al., 2015). His motion was based on new evidence that came from a serial rapist who was called Matias Reyes that was supported by DNA evidence that matched that of the victim in the case. This shocking discovery forced the five defendants to file a new law suit against the City of New York a year later. This lawsuit included the prosecutors as well as the police officers who had made efforts towards the said case and their convictions (Spielberg et al., 2015). However, it is worth to note that the five men’s lawsuit remained unresolved to-date.

The Five Defendants and their Current Positions

Korey Wise 

Korey Wise’s sentence had been given a five year more sentence when considering his counterparts who had lesser sentences. In fact, Wise was forced to spend his entire sentence in a maximum-security facility. This was despite being the least emotionally and intellectually developed than his co-defendants.  Moreover, he had the most difficult time to getting his life back together. He had began taking several college courses while still in prison despite having completed his high school equivalence program. To resent date, his hearing problems as well as his learning disabilities have remained unresolved or unaddressed. He began speaking loudly suggesting impediments that indicates to any person speech patterns of a deaf individual. Such is evidenced by the fact that he has the behaviour of leaning to an individual who is speaking to him, in his bid of trying to understand what is being said to him.

Wise’s current situation is worsened by his jumbled speech that is often coupled by repeated words. This suggests the fact that Wise frequently tries in vain to express words that seem more complex when compared to his low communication skills. Currently, Wise is considered by many to be permanently disabled and he is living on benefits coming from Social Security disability Funds.  He is however housed in Urban Pathways housing program in an apartment located in New York City.

Kevin Richardson

Kevin Richardson is currently living in the City of New York and works a a geriatric centre, which is an environmental service. Although Richardson is happy to have a stable job coupled by a couple of benefits, he is not happy nor satisfied working there. The most remarkable thing about Richardson is the fact that he is incredibly close to his sisters  as well as his mother.  At Schomburg tower, Richardson as well as his mother and older sisters attend towards a family gathering held every Friday. It is where his mother still lives and where he grew up.

Raymond Santana

As compared to his counterparts, Raymond Santana has had better luck getting job employments and thus, getting back to his feet. This was because his record was cleared and his convictions vacated. While in prison, Santana spent many hours lifting weights and thus had a better physical fitness. This contributed immensely towards getting a personal trainer and eventually became an assistant manager in one of New York’s local gym. Currently, together with his family, Santana lives in an apartment located in Harlem.

In addition, he is a full time employee in one of the most popular and largest New York’s unions. As a responsible community citizen, Santana has joined with various Innocent Projects whose main goal is to engage young people in discussions regarding responsibility as well as by sharing his personal experiences as an innocent individual wrongfully convicted by the judicial system.  Santana has a daughter who is aged thirteen years of age, who is currently living with her mother in Brooklyn. However, Raymond spends every weekend with his daughter in Harlem also making a point to visit her at Brooklyn during his off weekends.

Yusuf Salaam

While living at Harlem, Salaam has been able to get five daughters together with his fiancée. Since he began showing great interests in computers and how they function, Salaam made a career out of that interest. As a result, he is currently working at New York’s area hospital, where he manages the wireless system. This wireless system is used b both the staff and doctors for communication throughout the hospital.

Antron McCray

Soon after getting released from the prison, Antron McCray left the New York City. McCray began to get his life back together by adopting a new legal name. The new legal name allowed McCray to procure new jobs without necessarily using his real name that was widely known during his time in prison.  Few people around him know about his pas although his conviction was vacated. Currently, McCray is happily married and he a proud father of six children. McCray is working as a forklift operator at a certain warehouse. However, although that job pays well and is able to cater for his bills, McCray is currently searching for a satisfying career.  As a result, he applied to become a police officer and as a corrections officer, in which, both cases he failed to get a job opportunity due to his conviction. This is despite the fact that such convictions should not be reflected in his records.

Case Analysis

The five teenage boys took back their confessions immediately after formally arrested. They were teenage boys who had been forced to stay awake for more than forty-eight hours of intense interrogation having no attorneys resented to represent or explain their rights to them. It is imperative to note that these boys were all told that upon confession, they will be released to go home. Moreover, they all offered inconsistent stories against each other including the physical evidence that was available at the time. Some of the five boys indicated in their stories that they had stabled the victim, despite the fact that there were no stab wounds present in the victim’s body nor any knife present at the crime scene. In addition, the five teenage stories  varies given the details given regarding locations, timeline of the crime as well as the description of the victim (Spielberg et al., 2015). This means that there was barely no evidence that tied the five boys to the crime of beating and raping the victim. Despite this knowledge, the five boys got prosecuted, convicted and jailed in prison.

While in jail for murder and rape, in 2002, Mr. Reyes admitted to the crimes committed at the central Park (Spielberg et al., 2015). His allegations were supported b DNA evidence that indicted him to the crime. Despite conviction vacations offered by the judge in regards to the innocent five, police commissioner named Ray Kelly was fully unconvinced of the innocence of the five young men who had been jailed wrongfully (Spielberg et al., 2015). It is important to indicate that mistakes happen every where human beings engage themselves. Therefore, i would have been prudent to admit to mistakes committed while wrongfully convicting the five teenage boys in crimes that they did not commit. However, in this case, the police officers altered bad practices besides placing their own interests while convicting the five young men ahead of truth and justice (Spielberg et al., 2015).

Vulnerabilities During Police Interrogations

The Central Park Five case indicates that police officers frequently pick individuals that they believe without evidence to be guilty to committed crimes (Gessen & Squibb, 2015). While searching for the real culprits they rely on plausible stories in which they often add ratchet stories to indict persons that they believe to be criminals. This means that by the time such individuals are taken for interrogations, the police officers already have determined that they are already guilty for crimes that that on high probabilities are innocent of (Gessen & Squibb, 2015).  Therefore, this means that instead attaining the goal of ascertains or obtaining the truth during interrelations, the police officers are guided by the goal of solidifying the individuals’ guilt.

The point of view gives itself towards a mentality in which coercive interrogation techniques are often justified (Gessen & Squibb, 2015). Various techniques used by police are assumed to be true or legally acceptable such as falsely claiming that they have enough evidence incriminating them to crimes, lying to persons who are arrested, using intimidation, deceiving them, minimizing the significance of crimes or their potential consequences (Gessen & Squibb, 2015). All these techniques are used by police officers with the aim of making a confession seem like the easy way out to the arrestee.

However, during such interrogations, the most troubling technique that is assumed to be a coercive tactic is the use of sleep deprivation towards the arrestee (Gessen & Squibb, 2015). The main goal of such a tactic is to ensure that the suspect is extremely psychologically susceptible towards the police suggestions regarding confessions. Although sleep deprivation may sound somewhat benign, it is a popular instrument of torture that is widely used by police officers particularly during interrogations (Gessen & Squibb, 2015). Deprivation is used to remove an individual’s ability to think or even ac coherently and correctly. This is because such individuals are often characterised by hallucinations and delusions. Moreover, they are forced to do anything to gain some sleep because their desire for sleep becomes extremely unbearable (Gessen & Squibb, 2015).  This includes confessing to crimes that they did not commit as in the ca.se of Central Park.

Law Enforcing Administration

In addition, police officers have continually resisted the beginning towards the end of he videotaped interrogation including various rules against interrogations practices that are deemed to be coercive (Hayes, 2017). However, credit needs to be offered to the NYPD who have enacted mandatory stringent rules particularly regarding serious sex crimes, murder as well as felonies of assault suspects. This .is despite the fact that a full decade has come to pass after the country was polarized with the Central Park Crime regarding the five innocent teenage boys who were wrongfully convicted for beating and raping the investment banker (Hayes, 2017). This ideally means that various units in the law enforcing officers need to follow suit. In addition, they need to distance themselves from coercive interrogative techniques such as deception, sleep deprivation as well as intimidation (Anderson, 2001).

The moment when persecutors and law enforcing officers join hand in playing fast and loose as far as facts are concerned, more people get victimized by real crime offenders are lef lose (Hayes, 2017). This is also the case when they frequently engage in activities that suggest that they care more about getting more convictions than establishing the truth and achieving justice. In the meantime, the jogger and victim of the attack Trisha Meili published her memoir in 2003 and is currently working as a motivational speaker (Snyder, 2014). However, it is imperative for her to engage in activities that would finally realize real justice. Ms. Meili should not be coerced or forced to re-live her violent ordeal or victimization because the law enforcing officers had wrongfully convicted five innocent teenage boys.

Proposed Agreement

An agreement established between the five plaintiffs and the New York’s City’s Law Department (Gessen & Squibb, 2015). This department was aimed at ending the above extraordinary legal battle that existed regarding a crime that still symbolizes the highest degree of lawlessness of the law enforcing officers in New York. This is amid media reports regarding wolf pack and wilding youths who brought into light the twenty eight year old investment banker who had established the habit of running within Central Park after work (Gessen & Squibb, 2015).

The proposed agreement is averaged at about $1 million for every young man who was wrongfully convicted (Gessen & Squibb, 2015). It is worth to note that the $1 million settlement would be paid for every year that each individual spent in jail. That amount would symbolize that the United States and in particular, the New York city is ready to meet its obligation of fulfilling its moral obligation of providing the rights of justice towards the Central Park Five (Gessen & Squibb, 2015).

In their lawsuit, the five men accused the prosecution as well as the New York City’s law enforcing officers of false arrest, racially motivated, malicious prosecution as well as the conspiracy of depriving the five teenage boys their civil rights (Gessen & Squibb, 2015). These allegations were denied and vigorously fought against by Mayor Michael’s administration for more than a decade. In his defence, Bloomberg’s administration presented arguments suggesting that the law enforcing officers had acted in good cause and faith (Gessen & Squibb, 2015). Therefore, both the prosecutors and the law enforcing officers should not be held accountable or liable for their wrong convictions. His sentiments were further supported by a senior corporation counsel lawyer in 2011, who indicated that, the charges levelled against the five young boys had been supported by probable causes that were abundant, including their confessions (Gessen & Squibb, 2015).. In his statement, this senior counsel indicated that their confessions withstood intense scrutiny in fair and full lengthy public trials and hearings.

Conclusion

While the five innocent boys were undergoing intense torturous interrogations, trials and public hatred, the man who actually committed the crime of raping and beating the jogger at Central Park continued his crimes within New York City. Matias Reyes had committed the violent act of raping and brutally assaulting several women including his own mother even before the famous Central Park incident. It should be noted that the same year that Mr. Reyes committed the Central Park crime of raping and brutally raping the investment banker, he had also engaged in activities of breaking and entering in women’s apartments whereby he stabbed he eyes of his victims so that they would fail to identify him after he brutally raped them. Among five of every ten victims who met his brutal encounter, at least one of them was killed in the ordeal.

 

References

Anderson, J. (2001). City watch: Discovering the uncommon Chicago. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press.

Burns, K., McMahon, D., & Burns, S. (2014). Ken Burns the Central Park five.

Dennis, P., & Harris, N. P. (2002). City. Noble Park North, Vic: Five Mile Press.

Films Media Group. (2014). Ken Burns: The Central Park Five.

Hayes, B. (2017). Insomniac City: New York, Oliver, and me.

In Gessen, K., & In Squibb, S. (2015). City by city: Dispatches from the American metropolis.

Malfi, R. D. (2014). December Park.

Park, J., & Hong, J. (2012). Convergent flux: Contemporary architecture and urbanism in Korea. Basel: De Gruyter.

Snyder, Z. K. (2014). The ghosts of Rathburn Park.

Spielberg, S., Koepp, D., Attenborough, R., Goldblum, J., Dern, L., Peck, B., … Universal Studios Home Entertainment (Firm). (2015). Jurassic Park.

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