I must begin today with a disclaimer: American jurisprudence is second to none, except perhaps that of British Common Law, upon which it is based (I am told), and the presumption of innocence is the cornerstone in our justice system.
I've never understood why innocent and not guilty aren't used interchangeably but I'll bet there's a heck of a reason. Just remember the presumption of innocence part, okay?
You probably think I'm riffing on Whitey Bulger who has given everyone on earth ever named Whitey a bad name (as if it weren't already a bad name) except Whitey Ford. I'm not. Bulger had his day in court after decades on the lam though with or without Green Eggs and Ham has never been clear to me (or to Sam I Am). He is part of the past and will remain there, and in jail for the rest of his life and all of human memory.
I'm thinking more like this guy, here in my neck of the woods who popped up in the middle of my local newspaper's front page earlier in the week. You're staring at the picture and saying to yourself, 'Jeepers! Is it just me or does that orange jumpsuit make his butt look big?' How would any of us know that? Seriously.
That picture can barely contain his head and a tiny, little bit of his shoulders. But it's still a good question.
Here's another one: why is he, and so many other people whose mug shots you see in newspapers on a daily basis, smiling at all?
Don't get me wrong. It is a lovely smile, is it not? His dentist should be very pleased because, as you read the article you'll learn this for yourself, good oral hygiene in prisons, state or federal, isn't really the priority you or I, here on the outside, might think it should be. And this fellow has seen a fair number of places of incarceration. Rinse and spit if you're feeling me.
I doubt he has regular access to a Water Pik since the original arrest and can well imagine that negotiating bail has taken priority over getting a steady supply of dental floss (could it be tied together like sheets so very thin prisoners could shimmy out between barred windows?).
Still-what does he have to smile about?
And if he's grinning like this at the time he's being charged with a not insignificant number of offenses, what might he look like when something really makes him happy? And what might that something be? Finding out the Prize Patrol van from the American Dental Association just pulled up in front of his cell?