I’m not a big fan of the former Texas governor Rick Perry, or of Texas for that matter. But I’ve got to say that I sympathize with him. Last fall, Rick Perry ran for President of the United States, but dropped out of the race because his name and reputation were tainted by pending criminal charges. Those charges were dismissed yesterday. Mr. Perry can breath a sigh of relief. But it’s too late for him to get back into the presidential race.
I’m reminded of former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens. Senator Steven lost his reelection to the U.S. Senate in 2008 after being found guilty by a jury of federal crimes. Those charges were later dismissed by the prosecutor himself, after acknowledging prosecutorial misconduct. But it was too late for Mr. Stevens – who was humiliated and ousted from the Senate seat that he had held for over forty years under a cloud of scandal.
The high profile stories of Ted Stevens and Rick Perry only underscore the way that a prosecution can change anybody’s life. Many individuals cannot afford to post bail and are locked up in pretrial detention while awaiting trial. If they are found not guilty, they have already been to jail and probably lost their home and job. Others can have trouble finding work because of their arrest record. So you can be exonerated, but still suffer lasting social and financial harm.