Thursday, July 7, 2011

Perp Walk: 'We Villify Them for the Benefit of Theatre"

Bloomberg Flip-Flops on Perp Walks

Perp walks have garnered national attention in the wake of Dominique Strauss-Kahn's arrest, according to the Wall Street Journal. Perp walks are staged by police to allow media outlets to photograph handcuffed criminal defendants as they walk from or to preliminary arraignments. Often the accused looks disheveled or attempts to cover his face while handcuffed. Some suggest that the walks are a humiliating violation of the presumption of innocence.

“We have done perp walks for the benefit of newspapers and television for a long time — I’ve always thought that the perp walks were outrageous,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg told the Wall Street Journal.

A defendant is presumed innocent until proven otherwise, said Bloomberg, “and yet we vilify them for the benefit of theater, for the circus. They did it in Roman times. There’s nothing new.”

The mayor’s recent remarks about perp walks seem curious in light of what he said in May when reporters first questioned him about Strauss-Kahn’s infamous walk. According to the Wall Street Journal, the mayor said at the time,“If you don’t want to do the perp walk, don’t do the crime." He went on to say, “I don’t have a lot of sympathy for that.”

Now that the Strauss-Kahn case has begun to unravel so has Bloomberg's position on perp walks.

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