Table of Contents
The case of Adnan Syed became widely discussed after the Serial podcast provided by Sarah Koenig. Even though there was no concluding sentence on Syed’s innocence or guilt, the story has touched the general masses, who hope to justify the young man and ensure that justice is met. With regard to evidence including the testimonies of Jay Wilds and misconducts of the police and prosecutors, the case is a serious example of the imperfect American juvenile justice system. New evidence has appeared due to the growing public interest in the case. As a result, the failure of the defense team to investigate the alibi, as well as the biased attitude towards Adnan Syed, have become the crucial factors in accusing the juvenile offender without sound evidence of his guilt. In fact, juvenile offenders are a vulnerable group, whose crimes should be investigated with even more attention and responsibility that any other. It is absolutely unacceptable to be irresponsible when dealing with cases that will be of crucial importance further in a person’s life. The aim of this paper is to show that classifying juvenile cases of murder conviction as crucially important would make case investigations more thorough and probably save the future of unjustifiably convicted adolescents.
Adnan Syed’s hearing attracted public attention after Koenig’s podcast was released in 2014. Much time has passed since 1999, when Hae Min Lee’s murder was committed. However, in 2015, a number of new details related to the crime investigation have appeared. Technologies and journalists’ investigation provided the list of Adnan’s cell phone calls, his location history taken from cell tower, details on Ja’uan Gordon’s interview, and Asia McClain’s testimonies that should have been used in the previous investigation (Koenig, 2016). According to the prosecutor, Kevin Urick Adnan Syed murdered Hae Min Lee, and the cell phone records along with Jay’s testimony are the strong evidence that proves it (Vargas-Cooper & Silverstein, 2015). In fact, there are a number of doubts regarding the evidence of Jay Wilds and the inconsistencies that were found in his versions (Koenig, 2014a).
Even though all of this evidence cannot become the background for the prisoner’s justification, it definitely proves that the investigation of Syed’s case was not attentive and not effective, which represents the American justice system as weak and unjust. In the same way, if it raises a number of doubts among the wider public and makes them unsure whether the existing justice system ensures safety and fairness in the society, it causes serious worries in masses and social order. Thus, the point is that murder cases and juvenile cases are those that deserve particular attention and should be considered as the most serious.
The age of Adnan Syed at the time of the murder was 17 years (Wood, 2016). Consequently, he was an adolescent, whose mind was quite vulnerable to all the issues happening around. The latest investigations do not prove anything, but let one suppose that the young man was innocent. Reflecting on this issue should lead one to understanding that all the charges as well as the further incarceration became a real mental trauma for the adolescent. In case of a 17-year old man, a life-long incarceration sentence can cause not just stress but also hate towards the justice system and all law enforcement agencies.
Hence, there remains a question of whether one can deal with the consequences and whether a juvenile offender who was erroneously convinced of murder at the age of 17 can become an adequate and normal member of the society afterward. In case the answer is yes, it becomes quite interesting to know what efforts can have effect in returning him to normal life and bringing back the public belief in the American justice system. In addition to the possible mental disorders, aggressive behavior and serious depression, the common results of serious traumas at such age include substance abuse (NCTSN, 2008). According to researches, 45-68% of adolescent traumas lead to consequent problems that influence not only their own lives but the society in general (NCTSN, 2008). Crime rates, relations between people, upbringing of the next generation and citizens’ attitude towards the government and justice system – all these are the areas that may consequently lead to adolescent traumas. Without a doubt, any particular case needs special attention and thorough investigation. Nevertheless, this paper focuses on juveniles due to the group’s vulnerability and on first-degree murders as those that are the most serious with regard to punishment and can bear the worst negative consequences for the unformed psyche of a person.
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The Advantages of Case Classification
Even if the new evidence in Syed’s case does not prove his innocence, it is still important to consider the influence of the related discussions and proceedings. Even if they do not prove the innocence of Adnan Syed, they demonstrate the negligent attitude of the justice system workers towards their obligations. Such attitude towards crime investigation has not only influenced the life of Adnan Syed and his family but shattered the public’s confidence in fairness and appropriateness of the American justice.
Public trust in justice is of crucial importance for the welfare of the country. Jackson et al. (2011) reported that trust breakdown is “the heart of problems” that can lead to a number of difficulties including different conflicts and even crises. The legitimacy of institutions predetermines the commitment of the people to the law. Criminological investigations provide evidence that people can stop obeying the law if they see that the justice system is weak and provides risks to law-abiding citizens (Jackson et al., 2011). In the same way, the example of Adnan Syed’s defense weaknesses and unwillingness to investigate the alibi and all aspects of the crime is an obvious failure of the American justice system. Consequently, representing the justice system’s strengths instead of weaknesses is more desirable not just for the lawyer whose case was criticized but for the entire society.
Murder cases must be of higher priority, because they have more serious consequences for the imprisoned and are perceived more seriously by the public. In case one makes a mistake about appointing corrective work to the non-guilty, the probability of great public discontent will be definitely lower. It does not mean that the defense lawyer or judge has the right to make mistakes in such cases, but it emphasizes the higher priority of the cases related to murders and life sentences.
In conclusion, the failure of Adnan Syed’s case must be taken very seriously by the American government. The investigations of Koenig and the other media prove that the justice system is far from perfect and may have imprisoned an innocent adolescent. Such assumption is not just negatively perceived by the public but can become a real threat for the entire system and people’s obedience to law. With regard to the fact that the age of the imprisoned and the sentence are crucial details, it is necessary to pay particular attention to crime classification and make it impossible to make common mistakes. It is absolutely unacceptable to provide only superficial investigation for the cases that will bear crucial importance for all the further life of the person. Therefore, classifying juvenile cases of murder conviction as prior would make the case investigation more thorough and probably save the future of unjustifiably convicted adolescents.