Do people guilty of crimes walk among us? Does an accusation equal guilt? Can people be arrested and charged with a crime, but still be proven not guilty? Are innocent people in prison? Does the media influence the public’s point of view? We all know the answers to those questions.

The sad fact is that even an accusation of wrong doing can ruin a person’s life. Even if found not guilty, a person’s reputation may still never recover. A stain is forever on the person’s name in many cases.

I believe the system usually works. There are flaws, but it’s the only system for justice we have. One of the main issues is that too many cases are tried in the media circus, and people would rather believe the worst about others than face the truth. We like to be right. Nobody can be accurately judged from a sound bite on the news. That clip may be sensational and make for great television ratings, but it may not be an accurate picture of someone or how s/he lives.

We have become a very judgmental society. It’s easy to be led down the path when we believe everything we see in the news without questioning and without thinking for ourselves. People have become guilty until proven innocent; that’s not how justice works.

Best advice: jump down off the bandwagon, research the facts for yourself, and stop relying on the media and citizens with their own agendas to tell you what to think. Facts are sometimes quite different from truth. I’ll explain. It may be a verifiable fact that my car was parked all night in the parking lot of the local bar. Some busybodies may tell others that, based on that fact, I either spent the night at the bar or went home with someone after an evening of drinking. It sounds like a plausible explanation, doesn’t it? Easy to believe, huh? The truth, however, could have been that I simply parked my car there, had a friend pick me up to go out for dinner, and then on to the house. This could have been cleared up in a variety of ways: 1) minding your own business, 2) asking me or 3) checking the facts and searching for truth. With the right questions to the right people, the rumor of my drinking could have easily been proven false. Let’s stop getting so much exercise by jumping to conclusions. The truth will come out, even if it takes years. But for now, let’s stick to innocent until proven guilty.

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