At a recent event a supporter talked about why he contributes to the Montana Innocence Project, “When we fight the injustice of an innocent person in prison, we don’t just better their lives, we better ourselves as individuals and then ultimately, we become more elegant as a state and as a society," he said. We have been thinking about that quote a lot this week. Often we are so focused on our innocent clients and our fight for them, we forget to acknowledge the larger implications imprisoning innocent men and women has on us as a local, regional, national and global society.
Can we abide people losing their freedom over crimes they did not commit? Can we turn the other cheek knowing that the wrong person is in jail for serious crimes and the actual perpetrator of the crime remains free to do harm to another? Can we sit idly by as poor, minority, disabled and other underserved populations are disproportionately wrongfully convicted and imprisoned? Can we allow innocent people to spend day after day behind the cold metal bars of their cells?
We at the Montana Innocence Project ask ourselves these questions, but when we applied them to a larger societal scale, we came up with the same answer:
WE CAN’T ABIDE THIS.
If we want to be a society honoring the rights of every individual and we want to live in a world where freedom is one of the paramount rights, we can’t allow the innocent to have their freedom taken away. We simply can’t allow it.
Our supporter ended by saying, “There is no other group that dedicates their work and their lives to fight for justice for Montanans like the Montana Innocence Project”. We know all of our supporters stand with us in that fight for justice and we hope eventually every single Montanan will join us, because the fallout from the wrongfully convicted affects all of us. If every innocent human being is not given their right to freedom, we have gravely failed as a society.
We can't abide that, Montana.