Monday, June 9, 2008

No words are sufficient to underscore the tragedy of a man falsely convicted

Imagine if years of your life are taken from you by a wrongful rape conviction.

Imagine if you are forced to endure the horror of prison where, ironically, the crime for which you were falsely convicted is practiced with greater frequency than any place on earth. It is quite possible that you, yourself, will fall victim to the very crime for which you were falsely accused, especially if you are young and non-violent.

Imagine if you lost your wife or girlfriend, all your friends, your job, any hope of ever leading a normal and productive life, all because of a wrongful conviction for rape.

And imagine if no one, outside of a handful of people, cared. No college activists hold rallies to protest your fate. Instead, they hold rallies for people who claim they were raped. No lobbyists are seeking to garner greater protections for people like you -- men falsely accused and convicted. Instead they lobby for people who claim they were raped.

Imagine if the people who dominate the public discourse about rape insist that what happened to you is so rare that it is a "myth" or a "bugaboo" not worth discussing. Imagine that these same people -- if they acknowledge any injustice at all because of what happened to you -- insist that the real harm is not to you but to innocent women, because what happened to you could discourage hypothetical, phantom rape victims from "coming forward" with rape claims. Never mind that fact that you spent years behind bars because of a lie.

Sadly, you don't have to imagine any of it.

All of the above is reality in the so-called rape culture we live in, a culture that insists that the stories of innocent men wrongly accused and convicted of rape have no place in the public discourse about rape.

Here's yet another story where an innocent man wrongly convicted of rape was finally released. Read this and the other stories that pop up with frightening regularity, then tell me that the stories of these men should be hidden away as aberrations not worthy of inclusion in the feminist sexual assault metanarrative.

DNA exonerates Chicago man who spent 12 years in prison

Associated Press - May 28, 2008 10:44 PM ET

CHICAGO (AP) - A calm Dean Cage has some hard-earned advice, hours after being released from prison after serving more than 12 years for a rape he didn't commit.

The 41-year-old Chicago man said today that if you believe in something, fight for it and the truth will come out in the end.

Cage became the 29th Illinoisan to be exonerated by DNA evidence. He was convicted in 1996 and sentenced to 40 years in prison for the rape of a 15-year-old girl.

Yesterday, Chief Criminal Court Judge Paul Biebel dismissed the conviction at the request of the Cook County state's attorney's office. Cage was released from Illinois River Correctional Center in Canton and went straight to his mother's home for an all-night celebration with family.