Anxious detectives did not have the luxury of waiting for DNA results. Their orders were to close cases. The easiest way for them to do that was to pressure witnesses to make identifications, coerce confessions from suspects, or rely on snitches.
Despite the promise of its beginning, the novel falters in its lack of character depth and development, ultimately pinning the novel's success on the glib lives of six New Yorkers who occupy a bubble separate from the city's racial and socioeconomic diversity.
I grew up in New York City. In 1989 I was halfway through high school. The Central Park Five were my contemporaries. There were skeptics who believed in their innocence. At the time, they were pilloried. And yet, they were right. And we were wrong.
Why can't a film simply exist without trying to change the world? There are plenty of different kinds of movies, and in the chaos of awards season some wonderful, little flicks are completely forgotten.
In many ways The Central Park Five is a history lesson and cautionary tale of the types of police and prosecutorial misconduct that is possible without effective oversight or appropriate checks and balances to power.
With so many big, prestigious, Oscar-worthy movies crammed into the last few weeks of the year, it's challenging to find hidden gems now playing in theaters. But this gives me an opportunity to reach into my archival bag and pull out some lesser-known treats for the season.
The actual assailant, who confessed years later and whose DNA confirmed his story, was never in the sights of the police and prosecutors. Sadly, people remember the hysteria of the conviction campaign and often don't even realize that the lynch-mob mentality got the wrong guys.
When you rob five young men of their youth, innocence and educational opportunity and put them and their families through hell for more than a decade, you owe them more than an apology -- you owe them restitution.