The Central Park Five are getting paid. The cops and prosecutors involved in the case are off the hook. And the justice system will go on like none of it ever happened.
This deal isn’t a righting of an injustice. It isn’t a progressive remedy to a criminal justice failure. It’s a political solution designed to appease rather than appropriate responsibility.
In a case so drenched in racial division, conflicting evidence and allegations of law enforcement misconduct, this settlement may soothe a shortsighted soul, but it won’t do anything to make our justice system more fair. It won’t do anything to bring us closer to the type of thorough understanding needed to heal New York of a 25-year-old wound.
The financial cost of City Hall paying up rather than pressing for a civil trial is comparatively cheap. It’s just money.
Gone is the opportunity to poke and prod an investigative process that appeared myopic at best and Third World at worst. Lost is the ability to learn where those sworn to protect us may have gone wrong. Stolen are potential lessons we could apply to investigations happening at this very moment. Trials produce such results.
Similarly squandered by a settlement is a chance for cops and prosecutors to outline their version of an inarguably complicated case — including descriptions of detailed confessions.
More is unknown than known about the Central Park Five’s role in this case. The same uncomfortable reality surrounds the actions of those responsible for their convictions.