In 2015, after 2-year-old Kyrian Knox’s dismembered body was found in Chicago’s Garfield Park neighborhood, the city was stunned. The ensuing manhunt led to the arrest of Kamel Harris, a Chicago caretaker. With seemingly no evidence tying Harris to the crime, police and prosecutors forged ahead in charging Harris. Last year, Harris was fully aquitted by a jury of his peers.
Flashing back to the initial arrest, no one gave Harris a chance to defend himself. He was convicted by the public long before his trial started. Now, with his being found not guilty and the city potentially having to pay him millions, it is clear that our public officials are costing taxpayers dollars.
The question is, where do we go from here? Prosecutors have an unbelievable amount of power, and they can legally operate in secret. For instance, prosecutors do not have to explain why they gave Tyrone Black ten years for theft but gave John Smuckenhouser just a year of probation for the same crime. We don’t need only justice reform. Specifically, we need prosecutorial reform. How do we get this?
The first order of business must be eliminating the grand jury. By law, at any time, grand jury proceedings can be suspended. Getting rid of the grand jury evens the playing field for the defense. Grand jury proceedings are notably one-sided. The prosecution basically holds a mini trial in which they present their evidence to a secret group of jurors and those jurors almost always find probably cause to indict (charge) the defendant. Hence the popular idiom ”A grand jury will indict a ham sandwich.”
Prosecutors used to stand for justice. They operated and charged where they believed a crime had occurred, not where they simply needed to charge someone so they did. Nowadays, prosecutors pray on the poor and weak while pandering to the likes of the wealthy and politically powerful. Being a prosecutor, to the extent and prevalence of malicious prosecution, is no longer an honorable profession. It has been tainted by racism, greed and the human need to do what the influential orders.
For far too long, racism in this country has been reinforced by prosecutors who have never set a foot in the places many of their defendants come from. It is time for a prosecutorial overhaul. Prosecutorial decisions must become transparent. Racism or prejudice in prosecution must be called out.
The most troubling part of the Harris case is not the fact that taxpayers will likely have to pay him millions; it isn’t the prosecutorial misconduct that led to Harris’s being charged. It is the fact that Kyrian’s death remains unsolved. A child murderer is walking the streets. Maybe the police should actually do their job and figure out who committed the murder.
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