I believe perp walks are extremely prejudicial, they deprive suspects of due process by mistaking the guilty for the innocent, and they seem a bit like gloating. We can never stop prosecutors from boasting and strutting for the cams, but I think there should be a little more respect for the process.
At one time, they might have been useful. In mob cases of yore, the prosecutors would drag the wiseguys out before the cameras to show the ones who weren’t caught that they were about to be. It was a fear tactic, a way to send a message to everyone who ever did business with the suspect, which in today’s world just doesn’t translate. Maybe now that the Gitmo detainees are being offered rights to the American court room, we’ll see more terrorist perpwalks – though I tend to doubt it. There is simply too much respect for terrorists by the media covering these things. They’d much rather photograph Jeff Skilling or Martha Stewart at their moment of indignity.
But what is the purpose of the perp walk for corporate titans who may or may not have done something illegal? There is no “secret signal” being sent to any of the other hypothetical bad guys; it’s purely showbiz.
I realize that both prosecutors and defense teams will use any advantage they have once in the court room, and I have no problem with that – but before the trial, when these people haven’t even been formally charged with anything, they deserve the assumption of innocence. If we’re giving that to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed now, shouldn’t we at least give it to our own guys? Guys who work in skyscrapers instead of caves? Guys who build wealth, not destroy it? Aren’t they worth a little benefit of the doubt, as they’re constitutionally guaranteed?
Dial back the hubris, Prosecutors.