Penn & Teller: Bullshit! (2003) s08e07 Episode Script

Criminal Justice

You're not gonna talk, are ya? Well, fuck that.
You don't talk, you listen.
You listen carefully.
I'm gonna fucking get you.
I know you did it, and I don't care the DNA doesn't match.
I got this gut in police work, and this gut is never wrong.
Just that smug smirk is all the evidence I'll ever need, you tight-lipped weasel.
I'm gonna fuckin' get you, and that, asshole, is a promise.
Oh, man, that was great.
It feels so goddamn right.
That's why you see a version of this scene in every fucking cop show.
The D.
A.
follows his hunch, and the detective follows his gut.
But that's TV.
In real life, all your gut is good for is telling you when it's time for lunch.
When law enforcers trust their gut more than the evidence, criminal justice is bullshit! "Criminal Justice" Another rough night in the United States of America.
There's a murder every half-hour, a rape every 5 minutes, and a theft every 4 seconds.
I gotta stop taping these voice-overs so early in the morning.
Still, crime in America is down.
In fact, it's been goin' down since the 1980s.
And the prison population, it's bigger than ever.
Are those two related? What the fuck's going on? Is this increase in prison population responsible for the decrease in crime? Some think so.
But maybe shoddy forensics and overzealous prosecutors are trying to convict as many people as they can, even innocent people.
Maybe prosecutors are out of order.
Maybe courtrooms are out of order.
Even this sentence out of order is maybe.
Tonight, we'll meet a pistol-packin' talk show host I think the criminal justice system works.
A pencil-packin' attorney I think the American criminal justice system is in serious trouble.
A scientist who questions forensics When people are involved in testing, there are mistakes.
This victim of a terrible injustice They searched my wife.
They searched me.
They began going through our home.
An innocent guy sent to prison I thought I would probably die there.
And this guy, who wants to set us all straight.
If you want the freedom in this country, you've gotta pay the consequences for breaking other people's freedom.
All rise.
"Bullshit" is in session.
In the criminal justice system, there are 2 kinds of prosecutors.
One is the kind who looks to find the truth in every case.
The other's the kind who looks to win every case regardless of the evidence.
This show is about that second kind of prosecutor.
Jesus! Jesus.
Fuck! What are you d-- I thought we were gonna put that in in post.
Ahh! Okay, okay.
That's enough with the-- Enough.
Just--just-- The scene of the crime-- The home of this mild-mannered man My name is Richard Paey.
And a woman who claims to know him really well.
My name is Linda Paey.
I'm Richard Paey's wife.
Richard and Linda were home with their children in Florida one night in 1997 when their lives were shattered.
4 or 5 guys in black outfits, with guns.
They bang in, broke down my front door.
My first thought was that this is some type of robbery.
2 or 3 came down the hallway with their guns out and started checking all the rooms, looking for Richard.
There was, uh, several men in the bedroom with black ski masks on holding weapons, the one pointing at me, telling me not to move or that he was going to shoot me.
Jesus in a fucking wheelchair! I--I mean that's unfortunate.
What can we do to stop this kind of nightmare? I want to see the guilty ones thumped and thumped hard.
It's absolutely necessary to be tough on crime.
If you're not, the criminals will take the message that this is allowed.
I'm Lars Larson, I'm a talk show host, and I'm tough on crime.
His name is Lars Larson.
He's no Johnny Carson, but he has his own microphone.
There is a solid correlation between the prison population and the level of crime.
When states cut back on punishing people for crime, crimes go up, people commit more crimes.
If you convict and catch people and put them behind bars, crime goes down.
Lars sees salvation in incarceration.
As it turns out, Lars isn't alone.
Mike Rushford, President of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation.
It has been our incarceration policy, and I think the aggressive work of our law enforcement and prosecutors, uh, that have--have told criminals by and large that they're--they're facing real consequences if they commit crime.
Rushford, like Lars, believes a higher imprisonment rate has resulted in a lower crime rate, and they both have sexy wall charts.
While Lars has a chart about-- Conan? I-is that Conan? Rushford's wall chart tracks incarceration and crime rates since the 1960s.
The red line tracks the amount of crimes that occurred over that period, and the green line tracks the number of people who were sent to prison for crime over the same period.
And you'll note as the prison rate goes down, the crime rate went up until we had policies in place to start incarcerating at higher numbers.
The crime rate went down steadily over this last almost 20 years now and continues to go down today.
So I think the system, all in all, based on the crime rate, is working.
So Richard, with the system working and all and seeing that you're now safe and sound in your house, I guess the cops nailed those assholes that terrorized you.
I was, uh, taken to jail that night.
Fuck! Yep, Richard was handcuffed and arrested, because it wasn't robbers that invaded his home.
It was the po-police.
I asked them what-- What's this about? And the officer tells me that they have a warrant because I have a large supply of drugs here.
And I realized that they were talking about my prescription medication.
Pain medicine Richard had been legally prescribed and was taking ever since a car accident left him in chronic pain.
At the time of his arrest, Richard was found with a month's supply of his medication, which happened to be over the legal limit.
A prescription for 60 of my pills, uh, amounted to 4-- more than 4 grams, and that would be enough for a conviction for drug trafficking.
One prescription.
Do we have the facts right? Your doctor writes you a prescription, you pick it up at the Walgreens, and police break down your front door, scare the fuck out of your children, and arrest you as a drug trafficker? They're not supposed to do something like this.
I mean, it was-- It was horrible.
No shit.
But wait a second.
I thought the system was working great.
America once had, I think, the best criminal justice system in the world.
Tim Lynch, attorney and criminal justice scholar at the CATO Institute.
But if you look at many of the underlying trends that are going on today, I think we're going in the wrong direction fast.
But what about that sexy wall chart? We've been told "tough on crime" works.
If we're talking about apprehending murderers, apprehending rapists, apprehending child molesters, and taking them out of civil society and putting them in prison, I think that makes perfect sense.
If you mean wage the drug war more aggressively and put tens of thousands of more people in prison for drug offenses, then I think that's a wrongheaded idea.
Richard was following his doctor's orders.
Yes, he had a lot of pills.
What the police wanted was evidence to support their theory that he was selling the drugs, so they got busy.
Before the police did the raid that night, they had had us under surveillance.
Uh, it lasted between 2 and 3 months.
Uh, the surveillance turned up nothing.
But the police went after him anyway.
And we began the legal ordeal that would take 10 years of our lives.
This is the primary driver of the American criminal justice system.
It's the number of drug offenses and drug searches, arrests and prosecutions.
It's why our system is overwhelmed, uh, why the police are overwhelmed, why the courts are overwhelmed, and why the prisons are overwhelmed.
Let's say we don't give a fuck about innocent people.
Let's say we don't care about justice.
Let's talk money.
We spend more than $50 billion a year keeping people in jail.
That's roughly 20 grand a prisoner.
Now, it might be worth it to spend 20 grand a year of our fucking money-- and don't ever forget it's our fucking money-- To keep someone who rapes, robs, and murders out of circulation.
But for pot-smoking losers or guys like Richard who are doing no fucking harm? We jailed a man in a wheelchair for having too much painkiller around his house? If that's a problem, Teller can fix that for a buck.
Okay, so criminal justice has flaws, but if there's one thing people know works perfectly, it's forensic science.
The benefits of forensic science is that we are able to give objects that can't sp-- And in some cases, people, uh, who are deceased, we give them a voice.
I'm John Collins, director of an internationally accredited forensic science laboratory.
This is what a real crime scene investigator looks like? Fuck.
Forensic science is a very objective, very scientific aspect of our criminal justice system that I think the public would be very proud of if they knew more about it.
Well, we're right here, John.
Tell us more.
Start with fingerprints.
Fingerprint analysis is the examination of impressions that are left from the friction ridges of the finger.
Nobody has ever been able to find 2 people that have the same fingerprints, so, um, it's very powerful evidence, and, um, it's a very robust science.
When it comes to robust science, we should talk to a guy in a lab coat, not a sweater vest.
Although science is a good way to solve crime, it's not perfect.
My name is Dr.
Lawrence Kobilinsky.
I am a professor of forensic science and chairman of the Department of Sciences at John Jay College of criminal justice in New York City.
And our nominee for President of the Enunciation Association of America.
What we look at when we look at a particular fingerprint is not just the overall pattern of the ridges, but what we are looking at are the points of minutia.
If we have a full print, we have more minutia to look at.
And that is the problem.
When we have a partial print, there may be insufficient detail for a conclusion to be reached.
Dr.
Kobilinsky says forensics examiners make conclusions in spite of insufficient detail.
While one examiner declares a match, another examiner may say, "Well, this is inconclusive.
There aren't enough points.
" Okay, but come on.
This is forensics.
They do sexy TV shows about it.
You couldn't do TV shows about it if it weren't real.
Remember, we're on TV.
Oh, yeah.
I guess that kinda cuts both ways, huh? But even if fingerprint evidence isn't perfect, what about other forensic sciences, like ballistics? That's robust, isn't it? We need to look at ballistics and make sure there's a real scientific foundation for it.
That does not exist currently.
Oh, no.
What about, um, comparing bite marks? I see that on TV all the time.
You're literally comparing 2 pictures, looking to see if they match or not.
That is art, not science.
And who doesn't love art? If we wanna talk about forensics, we've come a long way.
It could always use some improvement.
But does that mean it's flawed and shouldn't be used to put people in jail? If that's what they're suggesting, I think they're dead wrong.
Fuck.
It looks so simple on TV.
I guess we have to let you go.
It looks like this victim died in a-- in an animal attack.
You gotta watch out when you learn your science from TV.
The problem with forensic science, uh, in general, is that it isn't science.
Uh, it was basically invented by police.
Radley Balko, senior editor "Reason" magazine.
Yes, Radley Balko has a super-cool comic-book detective name, but he's a serious guy.
He has been studying and writing about our fucked up criminal justice system for years.
There's never been sort of the rigorous kind of scientific review that we see in every other field of science.
In fact, you don't even have to be a scientist to work in forensics.
They're crime scene investigators, not crime scene scientists.
You can even earn your degree online.
There's no peer review in forensic science, there's no blind testing in forensic science, and there's all sorts of bias that creeps in.
Amazingly, in most crime labs, the prosecutor or the investigating police will meet with the forensic examiners before they do their analysis.
After all, the prosecution comes to them and says, "I got a bad guy.
I've got-- I gotta catch this guy, and I'm coming to you for help.
" And--and the forensic scientist has to be on guard, because they're not supposed to be an arm of law enforcement or the prosecution.
But what about that guy who loves forensics? Does he really think it's a robust science? I agree that forensic science, uh, needs help.
No doubt about it.
We don't really know the error rate in any forensic discipline.
But one thing that we know is all human beings make mistakes.
There is always the potential for error.
There's no theoretical reason that all fingerprints must be different.
We just haven't yet noticed 2 that are exactly the same.
So why are we limiting forensics to fingerprinting? Penn & Teller think there's room for improvement, and we're conducting the definitive study.
In the name of scientific accuracy, we're gonna need a statistically significant sampling.
But bad forensics had nothing to do with what happened to Richard Paey.
After being charged with drug trafficking for taking his pain medication, his case was thrown out of court twice.
So that's the end of it, right? The prosecutor in my case was incredibly overzealous.
He doesn't drop cases is what he explained to us, because he has the power to refile.
And so, the case was eventually tried with a new judge presiding.
The prosecutor argued that even if Richard were taking medicine prescribed by his doctor, he was taking way too much.
In the prosecutor's medical opinion, that made me an addict and my doctor a pusher.
So this prosecutor knows more about medicine and pain management than all the doctors and pharmacists who testified in Richard's defense? At least, the jury must have thought so.
They found Richard guilty of trafficking.
The proud prosecutor got his conviction, and Richard was sent to prison for 25 years.
The night that I had to tell them that their dad was going to prison, you know, we were all crying.
But from the very beginning, I was not going to candy-coat it.
"Your dad's in prison.
" It's mandatory in a drug conviction you go straight to prison.
There is no bail pending appeal.
Had I murdered, had I raped, had I robbed a bank, I would have been entitled to bail.
Those mandatory sentencing laws that seem like great deterrents are mostly political showboating.
They bypass the checks and balances of our 3-branch system.
They hogtie judges who should be allowed to choose appropriate action.
Why would any D.
A.
want to convict everyone he faces in court? Your average D.
A.
-- and I know many-- uh, spends their whole life building a reputation.
You want the other side to be afraid to get in court with you because you're so darn good.
They're like the marines of that mindset.
They want to be the best at getting the bad guys.
So justice takes a back seat to body count.
Law enforcement professionals from police to prosecutors, even to judges, they're evaluated based on how many people they arrest, how many people they prosecute, how many people they put in prison, and there's rarely any sanction for going too far in that direction.
This "win at all costs" attitude creates rampant prosecutorial misconduct.
Just ask this guy.
My name is Jamie Bain.
I was wrongly convicted and spent 35 years in prison.
In 1974, 19-year-old Jamie was accused of the horrible crime of raping a 9-year-old boy.
Couldn't believe what was going on at that point, charged with something I never dreamed I could be charged with.
When you have a rape case, especially a rape of a child or a murder case, these are high-stakes cases.
My name is Seth Miller, and I'm the executive director of the Innocence Project of Florida.
There's a lot of political pressure on both law enforcement and prosecutors to, you know, get the guy or at least get somebody.
The police were looking for an African-American teenager with bushy sideburns.
The victim's uncle, who knew Jamie, said, "That sounds like Jamie Bain," and so police showed the victim some photos.
But then they did something that was really inappropriate.
They didn't ask the victim to pick out the person who raped him.
They asked him to pick out Jimmy Bain.
And he did.
What the fucking fuck? And forensics also played a part in the case.
They did the blood type of the semen found on the victim's underwear, and it showed that it could not have been James--James Bain's blood type and therefore, couldn't have been his semen.
Faced with this type of convincing evidence, did they let Mr.
Bain go? Fuck no.
The prosecution brought in an FBI expert who testified that Jamie could not be excluded because of this evidence.
The jury believed the person from the FBI because they're from the FBI.
It didn't matter that Jamie Bain had an alibi, and it led to James Bain's wrongful conviction.
That guilty verdict brought with it a sentence of 25 years to life.
From the moment I walked in the courtroom, I thought I would walk out.
But apparently, as we see, I didn't.
While Jamie Bain remained in prison, more prosecutors continued to manipulate our justice system.
Case in point-- Mike Nifong of the Duke Lacrosse rape case.
It's the worst prosecutorial misconduct that I'm aware of, and there's plenty of prosecutorial misconduct that goes on, but this guy was off the charts.
I'm Stuart Taylor.
I'm a columnist at "National Journal" and coauthor of "Until Proven Innocent.
" Spring break, 2006.
A stripper accuses 3 members of the Duke University lacrosse team of raping her at an off-campus party.
Durham County, North Carolina, District Attorney Mike Nifong jumped on the case immediately.
I hope that you will understand by the fact that I am here this morning that my presence here means that this case is not going away.
One problem.
It seems the young men charged with rape were innocent.
You have all been told some fantastic lies, and I look forward to watching them unravel in the weeks to come.
There was no evidence, uh, supporting the prosecution's case.
There was a mountain of evidence proving them wrong.
No rape or sexual assault happened in that house, and this DNA report shows it loud and clear.
What prosecutor Nifong didn't expect was DNA.
Test results proved that none of the accused students' DNA was found inside the alleged victim.
All charges were dropped.
So, Stuart, what's the lesson to be learned? Don't hire strippers.
Uh, go to a strip joint.
That's the safe way.
That is extremely valuable advice for keeping your house tidy, but not quite what we were looking for.
We mean about making sure the innocent don't get shafted.
That's what we need to do, prevent people from going to prison wrongfully.
DNA can do it.
Nice thought, doc, but do you have any documentation to back that up? Tens of thousands of peer-reviewed articles have been published.
Validation studies have been done.
Okay.
So, uh-- oh, uh, yeah.
We don't have to see the paperwork right now.
Just finish your thought.
Uh, and people now recognize that DNA analysis is a reliable way to identify the source of biological evidence.
In Jamie Bain's case, it took not only DNA evidence, but 3 decades of persistence to get the courts to take another look at his conviction.
And that's when I had got a call from the Innocence Project out of Yallahassee.
They took it on, and 8 months after that, I was free.
Hey, Jamie.
Jamie.
Oh, my God.
When Jamie Bain got out of prison, we heard from law enforcement and prosecutors that here we have a situation where the criminal justice system worked.
But there's no way the criminal justice system worked here.
If a criminal justice system works when someone spends 35 years in prison for a crime they didn't commit, I wouldn't want to see it when it doesn't work.
I'm so happy.
DNA exonerations have been responsible for releasing over 250 innocent people from prison, and it has helped expose cases of prosecutorial misconduct all over the country.
A few years ago, I played the part of Gary Gauger in an off-broadway play called "The Exonerated.
" Gary was a very real person wrongly convicted of murdering his own parents.
Gary sat on death row for 9 and a half years before he was exonerated.
The whole time he was in prison, the real killers, 2 members of a motorcycle gang, were out fuckin' up the world.
So, again, let's say you don't give a fuck about people like Gary.
Let's say even the innocent people in prison are scumbaggy enough that it's good they get put away.
But when someone is convicted of a crime, we stop looking for the real criminal.
The 35 years that innocent Jamie Bain sat in prison were 35 years that the real rapist was free and walking around among us with no chance of being caught, none.
The police weren't lookin'.
You can't be tough on crime when you think the crime is solved.
One innocent in jail equals at least one criminal free.
That's the equation we can never forget.
We've got 2.
3 million Americans in prison.
Yeah, crime is down, but who knows how many people are in there because of asshole out-of-control prosecutors and faulty forensics? I've seen some estimates as low as half a percent of the prison population to as much as 5% or even 10% of the prison population are in prison for crimes they didn't commit.
I think a lot of prosecutors get in their head that someone was guilty, and then they sort of build the case around the fact that this person is guilty instead of investigating more broadly to find out who actually committed the crime.
And what about Richard Paey, the ruthless, pill-popping, wheelchair-bound, drug trafficking kingpin? Never gave up on hope.
Never gave up on the thought that I would be able to do something, something would come along.
That something came after 3 and a half years behind bars in the form of a pardon from Governor Crist of Florida, an action that freed Richard and focused attention on a broken criminal justice system.
It's having an effect on innocent people, innocent Americans, and it--it needs to be corrected.
We haven't spent any time worrying about defense lawyers working too hard to win.
Defense lawyers aren't supposed to care about innocence or guilt.
They're just there to make sure the defendant's rights are represented.
They cannot dismiss a case.
They just represent the defendant.
The police and prosecutors represent the rest of us.
Yes, most police officers are good.
Most prosecutors are good.
There's a reason for that-- Most people are good.
And because most people are good, it makes sense to presume that anybody who's accused is innocent until proven otherwise beyond the shadow of any reasonable doubt.
That's not just the moral choice.
It's the practical one.
If you have to bet on innocence or guilt, your statistical best bet is always innocence.
Uhh! If this wouldn't have happened to me, there's no limitation what I could've been or could've did.
I don't know what I'd have probably did.
Been a senator or a president, a businessman, I have no idea.
I have no limitation what I could have been.