Communities must beware of rushing to judgment

As someone who has written crime novels which take place on Maui, I am familiar with the problems of disposal of evidence. I am reminded of this because of recent unsolved possible capital crimes on the island.

Some of my characters chose to bury evidence, assuming that cliffs, jungles and mountains provide great cover. Others felt more confident using the ocean for disposal. Neither proved wise on a small island. Particularly when one suspect is prime, and his or her trail of activities is easily followed.

People, but not courts, hold lie detector tests in high regard. A highly sensitive innocent person can give self-incriminating results that do not reflect guilt, but rather fear and panic engendered by organized, widespread, pressurized suspicion. Suspicion is infectious. It can substantially raise one’s blood pressure.

The same mistakes are commonly made by criminals. They add lots of details to their narrative or alibi, because they believe that details increase convincingness. They also assume that they will remember their lies.

Small, isolated communities, on the other hand, can proceed into criminality themselves by presuming guilt prematurely. When such people rush to judgment, for whatever subjective or pathological reason, the frayed edges of the social contract can loop into a noose of injustice.

Raphael O’Suna