A Prosecutor looks the man whom he wrongfully convicted forty years earlier in the eye and apologizes.
Two men shake hands. Two men who could hardly have more drastically different plights in life stand face to face. Forty years earlier… the man on the left, a young, talented, deputy district attorney, the world at his feet, beginning a career in the esteemed legal profession. The man on the right, but a young man living life, though as a minority and poor, still filled with hope and promise. Their meeting those four decades ago proved another notch on the young DA’s resume, for the man on the right, their meeting brought a sentence of a life to be lived locked in a cage, all for a crime committed by another man.
Today, we applaud the man that young DA grew to be. The man who now humbly admits his error, and who purposes to right that wrong (to the extent that’s possible now). This is criminal justice reform personified.
This story is a powerful look at wrongful conviction, humility, and a big dose of forgiveness. It’s been said that saying you’re sorry is mere words, but here Dugan is not only apologizing but also putting his time and effort into clearing Brinkley’s name, and Dugan has already begun putting his money where his mouth is. It was Dugan’s testimony, for example, on Brinkley’s behalf that precipitated Brinkley’s release on parole.
The battle is far from over. Even though Kevin Brinkley is now out of custody he has not yet been exonerated. Justice will not be served until Brinkley’s name is cleared of these charges, his record expunged of this felony – and innocence returned to his reputation.
I wanted to talk to you about this story because I believe that forgiveness, humility, compassion, and honesty are too often lacking from our criminal justice system. I believe that true Criminal Justice Reform is only possible if we embrace these types of stories and the truths that they embody. Our job is to infuse the justice system with reminders of the importance of seeing defendants as human beings and to realize that sometimes the system makes mistakes, and when the system does make mistakes it is imperative upon those responsible to set their pride aside to show some humility – to do the right thing. I think this true story of accuser turned apologist and accused turned redeemed does a great job of illustrating a way in which this can be done. Our system can be changed. Reforms are possible. But to make these changes for the better a reality we must remember our own flaws, our own transgressions, our own shortcomings, and when we see those things in other people we must be willing to offer them the mercy and Grace that we would wish to be shown to us in a similar situation.
Justice will not be served until Brinkley’s name is cleared of these charges, his record expunged of this felony – and innocence returned to his reputation.
Thank you for taking the time to visit CJReform.info. Please leave your thoughts, share with your friends and family, and together let’s keep raising awareness of these wrongful conviction issues that continue to plague our justice system.