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Underfunded Justice Fails the Innocent

September 05, 2002

Re "Witness Mistakes Costly for Accused," Sept. 2: The wrongful incarceration of Louie Gomez illustrates a more fundamental problem with our criminal justice system than the unreliability of eyewitness identification: We have a system of "criminal justice on the cheap." At the same time as the LAPD is attempting to hire a thousand additional police officers, the L.A. County district attorney's office has a hiring freeze. Who will prosecute the offenders arrested by those additional police officers?

As your article demonstrated, dedicated but overworked prosecutors simply lack the time to do a thorough investigation of every case. In addition, prosecutors are severely underpaid. A head deputy district attorney with 20 years of experience makes less money than a first-year attorney at a major Los Angeles law firm. Unfortunately, part of the price tag for an inadequately funded criminal justice system is the occasional incarceration of the innocent.

Arnie Bell

Huntington Beach

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Since Gomez was exonerated, why aren't his former employers giving him his jobs back? Why doesn't his accuser have some responsibility for putting him in such jeopardy? The police could have saved Gomez a lot of grief. The deputy district attorney should not be excused because she could not sit down with witnesses due to her heavy caseload. This is certainly an example of justice delayed and should not have happened.

Ed Schlossman

Thousand Oaks

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