Timothy Masters was freed on January 26, 2008 in Fort Collins, Colorado after serving 9 1/2 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. The DNA from the victim’s body didn’t match that of Masters but of the woman’s former boyfriend, who had been dismissed as a suspect early in the case.

The lead detective, who relentlessly pursued Masters for ten years, is now under investigation for alleged misconduct. Evidence was manufactured. Rules were bent or broken. An innocent man suffered the consequences.

It’s the criminal justice systems worst nightmare.

If this were an isolated case, it could be written off as an aberration. However, as of this writing, over 200 innocent men have been freed from prison based on DNA evidence. According to Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, who established the Innocence Project in 1992, police and prosecutorial misconduct are factors in 45%-50% of the DNA exonerations.

It is apparent that far too many law enforcement officers and prosecutors are refusing to admit they make mistakes and are ignoring the oaths they once took to protect and defend the innocent. Winning becomes more important than justice.

The laws we write and choose to live by control abuses of power and determine the kind of society we live in. Without laws and honest individuals willing to uphold them, there can be no civilization. Numerous polls have indicated that a majority of citizens have lost faith in our elected officials. We can’t afford to have the public lose faith in our justice system. Not if we want society and civilization to survive.

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