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This paper that I am about to write is a case study on a juvenile confession. When I read this story it really bothered me that young people confess when they get in front of high authority people even if they didn’t do anything. Are these so called lawyers, attorneys and prosecutors, scaring these young people so much that they tell them things to make them confess?
Well after reading this story, I have realized that this has happened more than once, and is becoming to be a pattern with some of these big shot people that are supposed to take the law seriously and help those in need, not make the ones in need of help scared half to death to ask us for it. On November 7, 1994, in the neighborhood of Englewood, on the south side of Chicago, a worker was outside cleaning up behind a liquor store and when he went to the dumpster to put the garbage in, he found the body of an African American woman who was badly beaten.
When the woman was identified, the found out that she was a prostitute and her name was Nina Glover. At the scene of the crime, the policed interviewed a male who was a resident of the neighborhood, his name was Johnny Douglas. He denied that he knew the victim so the police let him go. Now four months after finding this woman in the dumpster, the police had no leads but someone called them and gave them a tip, so they acted on it.
They arrested four African American teenagers, (Vincent Thames, Terrill Swift, Harold Richardson and Michael Saunders) for questioning and according to Detective James Cassidy, after interviewing the four, he said that all of them voluntarily confessed to the murder, saying that they all four took turns raping Nina Glover before they actually murdered her. Now DNA testing excluded these four teenagers as the source of semen that was recovered from Glover’s body, and all four boys claimed that the confessions that they had given had been coerced.
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Even with that said the boys were sentenced based on the signed statements with such detail that they had given about their involvement. In return the jury convicted them each a prison term that ranged up to 30 to 40 years each. The media and the world had given these four teenagers, a group name that would seem to last and latch on to them forever, the Englewood Four. In the year of 2010, two of the boys had requested advanced “STR” which DNA is testing that comes along with a database search of the genetic profiles f criminals. The test were opposed by the Cook County prosecutors because contending whatever was done, the trial court judgments were said to be final. Finally, a judge heard about what was being asked, and he ordered it to be done and when he did, the results came back in May and the results were stunning. The DNA matched a person that the cops had interviewed right at the crime scene when it happened, none other than Johnny Douglas. So, with that said and done, the four teenagers had to be ruled out and exonerated.
As the four young men now, families waited for them to come home, they were ready to give them a big welcome or so it seemed until the State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced that she would vigorously fight their release that they had just been granted. Now Johnny Douglas was a man with a long history of preying on prostitutes. He also had a rap sheet that was really impressive: he had 38 convictions, including murder and sexual assault. In the year 2008, someone shot him to death. There were a lot of questions after the exoneration of the four boys and some of those questions were seriously to be thought about?
For instance: How did these four confess to crimes that they did not commit? Why did the DNA testing take so long? Why has the state’s attorney of Cook County Anita Alveraz, persistently fought justice for the four? Last but not least, how could the teenagers have provided so many details about the crime if they didn’t commit it? Meanwhile, while all these questions surfaced, Alveraz had her own theory as to what happened at the scene of the crime. She tells us that she thinks that “Douglas had sex, unprotected with Glover, left her, without harm and later on she was raped and murdered by the Englewood four. Alveraz also said that “Douglas didn’t kill every other prostitute that he had ever been with, and that DNA evidence in and of itself isn’t always the “silver bullet” that it’s sometimes perceived to be! ” Where does this detective Cassidy fit into this? Well as I kept on reading this story, I realized that he was the detective that actually was the one questioning the four boys and what he said, was the reason they were convicted because he said they confessed to him. Well, turns out that old detective Cassidy also had a rap sheet of his own.
In 1994, the year before this case, the detective had taken a confession from and 11 year old African American boy who was supposed to murder an elderly white woman on the southwest side of Chicago. A federal judge listened to the confession and concluded that his statement had been coerced and the conviction was tossed out the door and the judge ordered the child’s record to be immediately expunged. Again in 1998, detective Cassidy was back, now this time he had another high profile confession with 2 African American boys ages 7 and 8.
They admitted killing and 11 year old Ryan Harris and dumping her body out in a backyard. All of this is what Cassidy claims that they said. These two confessions created a national furor over pre-adolescent crime until the authorities found semen in the little girl’s panties. They automatically dropped the charges and they did later on secure a confession from an adult male about this case. Now after all of this Cassidy is no longer able to be active on the force. They had him reassigned to the Medical Examiner’s Office, and now his job is to obtain confessions from the recently departed.
Now in my opinion, I would have told him to pack his stuff and go as far away from Cook County as possible and he is to never be able to practice law enforcement again. This story also hits home for me as well, my husband was involved in the wrong group of people, and he also lives in Cook County. He was involved in gang life and all of that, something happened (I’m not going to go into all the details) but to make a long story short, he also had to plead guilty to something that he did not do and he did the time for it.
The point here is, these boys were false accused and they were scared into a confession that they didn’t do but landed them into prison. So I have found out that 76 wrongful convictions in Cook County since the advent of DNA testing, 25 were based ion suspects admitting to crimes they didn’t commit, according to the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University. So now the Englewood Four, as they’ve been dubbed, await a decision by the prosecutors whether they will be re-tried or not. These Four men were cleared by DNA evidence that linked the state and the system to a career criminal in this particular crime.