Letter to the Editor: What Does an Arrest Mean?

Los Alamos

In a letter to the editor in the Los Alamos Daily Post on Nov. 16, 2013 Amanda Barry made the point that the practice of publicly shaming people accused of a crime is, “…an outdated, unjust and unfair practice…”

The Los Alamos Daily Post’s weekly Police Blotter includes a small disclaimer, “Neither arrests nor charges indicate a conviction, and neither means that a person is guilty of the charges filed against them.”

The individual featured in the Los Alamos Daily Post on Dec.6, 2013 under the headline, “Los Alamos Police Help Maryland Detectives Apprehend Man on Felony Warrant,” did not even receive that small courtesy.

You may be of the opinion that in a country where the government is “of the people, by the people, for the people,” such an explanation is not necessary but I would venture to say that the majority of the population is ignorant about the criminal process or persuaded to the viewpoint presented through the media.

When one sees a headline such as, “Los Alamos Police Help Maryland Detectives Apprehend Man on Felony Warrant,” I believe the initial reaction is one of relief. Thank goodness we have such competent law enforcement. They have saved our town from the dangers of a felon, right? 

How many people actually stop to consider what that arrest means? In our busy lifestyles, do people take the time to consider that there are two sides to the arrest – the prosecution and the defense? The information presented in these media blips only present the side of the prosecution along with a picture taken of the suspect on what is quite possibly the worst day of their life. The suspect has not yet been granted the opportunity to present their defense through the judicial process and in many cases, the suspect has not even been given the opportunity to secure an attorney before the ink dries or the information is posted to the vast digital network of our current society.

As a citizen of this great nation, I ask you, my fellow citizens, to be an individual thinker. Minimize the influence that the media may have on you. Inform your children of the laws and judicial process. Without such thoughtfulness we risk the very foundations of this great nation and may as well let the uninformed and highly biased Court of Public Opinion define our rights, justice and liberty.