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October 16, 2018 Reading Time: 3 minutes

As the country struggles to understand why Kanye West would try to have a good relationship with President Donald Trump, Kim Kardashian West continues to discuss criminal justice reform. In an appeal to California Governor Jerry Brown on Twitter, Kardashian advocated further investigation into how DNA testing could potentially free death row prisoner Kevin Cooper, found guilty of four counts of murder in 1983.

While San Bernardino County D.A. Mike Ramos tells reporters he stands by Cooper’s conviction, the inmate has continuously claimed innocence, going as far as suggesting he was framed. But despite years of requests, Brown refuses to allow advanced DNA testing to be used in this case, even though it could provide further insight into who committed the crime. And to make matters worse for the California justice system, a recent New York Times piece uncovered that Cooper is not the only suspect in this case and demanded police investigate it further.

According to the publication, a second suspect who was also convicted is asking for an advanced DNA testing. The man, who was only identified as Lee, told the New York Times he had nothing to do with the crime and that DNA testing could prove it. “I want it all retested, yes. To clear my name,” he said.

While Kardashian refrained from passing judgment on what she thinks the result would be, she simply used her influence to ask Brown to please reconsider — a position consistent with her ongoing battle to help black inmates, who are often hurt by an overcrowded system. As it stands, black defendants are more likely to be convicted than whites and are more likely to be sentenced to death. While these details alone do not imply that Cooper is innocent, a test could help provide further details. If innocent lives can be saved, further information could help find the real culprit.

But while D.A. Ramos defended the conviction, he used the victims’ families as justification for the continuing silence regarding Cooper’s request for further DNA testing, saying that Kardashian’s “latest attempt to free Kevin Cooper is nothing more than a red herring and another slap in the face of the victims and their family members who were forced to suffer a lifetime of pain.”

However, if a DNA test can confirm that Cooper is in fact guilty, then Ramos’ outrage seems out of place, especially when the United States incarcerates people at a higher rate than other countries. If anything, his unwillingness to clear things up only adds to the problem, proving the justice system is seriously flawed.

A Failed System

Much like anything touched by bureaucracy, the justice system produces plenty of mistakes. From forensic specialists who tamper with evidence to corrupt prosecutors, the system is filled with traps that end up putting the innocent in jail — sometimes for life.

According to a study from 2014, 1 in every 25 people sentenced to death is actually innocent. And while Cooper was sentenced to death for a quadruple murder, the Innocence Project reminds us that from the beginning of the investigation into the case, police knew that the surviving victim’s own account showed that the three attackers involved in the murder were actually white.

Law enforcement was also alerted at the time that another suspect could be involved after the suspect’s own girlfriend reached out to say she feared her boyfriend had something to do with the murders. She even provided the police with the man’s bloody coveralls, telling them his hatchet was missing. According to the case’s report, his hatchet had a remarkable resemblance to one of the weapons used in the murders. But instead of testing the coveralls, police threw the piece of evidence away.   

Knowing the corruption that exists in the system is indeed real, and knowing the police ignored evidence that could have shed more light into the case at the time, Cooper’s quest for further investigation is more than warranted.

If Brown wants to prove to the people of California his commitment to criminal justice reform should be taken seriously, taking a second look at this case and ordering advanced DNA testing could help his case. Whether or not a new test proves Cooper is guilty, getting involved and being willing to admit that mistakes are made would only benefit him in the long run — and Kardashian knows this.

Even if President Trump is listening, why would Brown, a vocal opponent of the president, choose not to?

Chloe Anagnos

Chloe Anagnos

Chloe Anagnos is a writer and digital marketer and has been an AIER contributor since 2017. Her work has been the subject of articles in FOX News, USA Today, CNN Money, and WIRED. She has been a writer, commentator, and panelist for media outlets around the country on subjects like political marketing, campaigning, and social media. Follow @ChloeAnagnos.

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