Perp Walk

Friday, May 20, 2011

Murray Weiss, DNAinfo's crime columnist, and Pascale Richard, journalist and former editor of France-Amérique, explain the "perp walk" and how famous accused criminals are treated in America and abroad. 


Pascale Richard and Murray Weiss

Comments [38]

Ola from Sweden

I truly admire USA, love New York and are addicted to WNYC, but every now and then I feel a bit enstranged.

In a short time span I hear about Bin Ladens assasination, Strauss-Kahns perp walk, one out of hundred (?) americans incarcerated and Abu Ghraib, but I dont get the feeling that anyone connects alla those things. It seems that most americans are unable to see all the violence in their history and culture. College kids turned experts in water boarding over night? One in hundred incarcerated. How many suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome?

Your empire is bleeding from within and is over stretched to unbeliveble costs. Its impossible to create jobs by creating absurd gaps between rich and poor, locking them up, and you are loosing the war on terror. All your might and technology and you cant beat sheep herds with kalasjnikovs? You create terrorism. And one day you will have to pay your debt to China.

And now everybody turns on Obama? He inherited a state ruled during eight mad years and after a massive economic crisis. Obama belives in the enlightenment.

May. 21 2011 06:47 PM
David from Manhattan

I agree with the comments that the perp walk is one of the more medieval aspects of our justice system. It is a kind of punishment through humiliation on someone who still has the presumption of innocence. They could easily work out the logistics of transporting someone without letting the press take their picture if they really wanted to.

I think this highlights an aspect of our criminal justice system that merits more attention: the role of the police in deciding how much to punish people they arrest. The segment mentioned how it's the police who call the press and let them know that someone will be perp walked at such and such a time. The police also hold people all day before booking them so that they'll have to spend a night in jail, they leak details of cases to the press, and so on. Who gives the police the right to make these decisions? Why isn't there a more uniform way of treating citizens that the police have arrested? I'd like to see more on this.

May. 20 2011 01:57 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Solomon, you're half right. And Brian was right on the other half. It's "Vive *la* difference!"--the noun "difference" is feminine in French.

May. 20 2011 12:24 PM
rose-ellen from Jackson heights

There have been defendants spared the perp walk .This is more anti-French bigotry that much of the media and politicians and our own Ray Kelly have no qualms in expressing.Why the name of the accusser is not given but the name of the accused is ,is unjust. And the statement made above that even if innocent he should have made sure he never got into a situaltion that he could even be charged with a crime is about the most obvious expression of ill will and malice to say nothing of stupidity I've read about this yet.Like you can contol ever being falsely accused.Maybe if you live life under a rock you can.It should only happen to you or your loved ones miss Becky!

May. 20 2011 12:18 PM
Paul Kolnik

I believe the proper phrase is that one is "presumed" innocent until proven guilty. Not that one is innocent until proven guilty as Brian said I believe mistakenly on today's show.


May. 20 2011 12:11 PM
amalgam from Manhattan by day, NJ by night

@ Charles Bennett - I think you do a fine job of serving up with nuance the "perp walk's" place in respective French and American society and jurisprudence.

May. 20 2011 10:56 AM
ray from red bank

the perp walk is antithetical to the idea that we are innocent until proven guilty. it serves no other purpose than to convict someone in "the court of public opinion," which is often times just as important as a court of law. this is especially true since we now live in a 24 hour news cycle. no matter how open minded one is, it is almost impossible to presume that the accused is anything other than guilty when we are being inundated with images of someone being lead around by the police in handcuffs.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg himself said during his speech that if you dont want to do the perp walk dont do the crime. (paraphrase) this statement proves that we are culturally hardwired to think of someone in handcuffs as a criminal, whether proved so in a court of law or not. it might even prejudice the possible jury pool, making it harder for someone to get a fair trial. Even if the accused is found to be not guilty, the damage to their reputation has already been done.

if we continue the practice of the perp walk, it is only fair that we should also have an "exoneration walk," for those people who are found to be not guilty.

May. 20 2011 10:56 AM
solomon from Upper West Side

Under our system of jurisprudence no one is ever declared "innocent".
The declaration is always "not guilty", and VIVE LE DIFFERENCE.

May. 20 2011 10:42 AM
Charles H. Bennett from Croton on Hudson, NY

Both French and US justice systems enshrine the principle of innocent until proven guilty.The difference that Ms Pascale Richard was trying to explain is much more subtle than that. In most French trials the prosecutor must convince a JUDGE that the defendant is guilty, whereas in the US the prosecutor must convince a JURY. Judges, being professionals, are less influenced by the drama of a perp walk. US prosecutors like them because they help convince juries -- that is to say amateurs -- that the defendant is guilty. The downside of our citizen jury system is that perp walks and courtroom drama can have a disproportionate influence on the outcome of trials, and damage the reputations of some innocent people. The upside is that it serves as a check against against corrupt judges, which are a big problem in many countries, though not France.

May. 20 2011 10:36 AM
Solomon from Upper West Side

Not VIVA LA.....
Puhleeze, if for no other reason than because many people emulate you.

May. 20 2011 10:32 AM
Joelle from Manhattan

First, it would be better if you had people who know what they're speaking about.

Second, when you read "things" like "The Truth from Bekky" message, you understand why so many things are wrong in this country!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am an American, originally from France. After 32 years of leaving in this country I still run into too many of these people, as whoever is Bekky, who often suggest that I go back to "my country".

Pathetic Bekky, I'm sorry for you.

May. 20 2011 10:32 AM
The Truth from Becky

Our justice system is far from perfect, it is not even "very good" but you can't say to save the French embarrassment we won't handcuff this "prisoner".

May. 20 2011 10:27 AM
Xana Miguelez from Long Island City

I believe this issue is of concern due to a wider cultural difference where in Southern Europe a greater amount of social justice is conducted informally within communities on a social level than it would be in the United Staes. This is a good and a bad, but practices that protect people from social humiliation before they've been convicted are righteous in that context. American society is much more uprooted and less bound to small communities and the devastation of defamation is more easily diffused. People move more easily than in Europe. FAmily honor carries a higher value as well. It makes sense for Europeans to protect against this. Also American society is much more punitive.

May. 20 2011 10:27 AM

Schadenfreude is now a very American word.

And Renee, I think if your perp had an actual choice she wouldn't have be arrested. Only someone who's never been cuffed and busted out by the cops would write something like your comment.

May. 20 2011 10:26 AM
john from location


May. 20 2011 10:25 AM
Bryan from Manhattan

The humiliation of a perp walk is a sacrifice innocent individuals make to protect the people against the potential of an abusive and powerful government whisking persons away silently in the night. Unprofessional district attorneys that turn a matter of state necessity into an elaborate exhibition for personal, political or professional gain should be sanctioned.

May. 20 2011 10:25 AM
Mike from NYC

To the guest: The affect of the perp walk on the jury is not the point. The affect of perp walk on the accused person's life, as the earlier caller pointed out, can be very negative even if they are proven innocent. BTW: To be proven innocent is not to "get away". It means the accused is not guilty of the crime that he or she was alleged to have committed. The caller's attitude that to be proven innocent was getting away with it shows that this country does not understand its own laws and will punish someone for merely being accused.

May. 20 2011 10:24 AM
Theresa from Brooklyn

This is not about the perp walk and its appropriateness or lack thereof. This is about the French are embarassed in front of the US and the world, so they must find something to protest about.

May. 20 2011 10:23 AM
chris from new york

This represents a fundamental difference between European and the US values: we value free speech over privacy; they value privacy over free speech. I don't think I heard the whole piece but that is really all it comes down to. I doesn't have that much today with the difference in the criminal justice systems.

May. 20 2011 10:23 AM
The Truth from Becky

Hundreds of innocent Americans have taken the same walk!

It is meant to humiliate and control!

You don't like it then don't come over here committing crimes or putting yourself in a position to be "accused" of committing a crime...Our Country, Our rules!

May. 20 2011 10:22 AM
leo from queens

How about the overwhelming majority of us who are tagged and arbitrarily fined as 'criminals' for all types on 'crimes', like riding a bike, owning a house, taking garbage out to the sidewalk, driving, etc. in order to meet certain revenue quotas through an illegal taxing system? why are we treated as criminals? Guilty until we give up and pay the extortion money?
The mayor is a hypocrite because he runs an abusive system and uses the 'law' and 'regulations' to arrest and shake people down for money. I don't defend the IMF official since he more than likely did this out of a sense of superiority and that he could just get away with it because others are there to service him.

May. 20 2011 10:22 AM
David from Queens

In this case, if the defendent is found not guilty, they will have an opportunity to appear before the press outside the courthouse - not in handcuffs. The opposite perp walk!

May. 20 2011 10:21 AM
Robert from NYC

Wake, we're NOT sophisticated. America hasn't grown up yet, we're still cowboys and hillbillies and it's the culture. It's set in the psyche of Americans and becomes implanted very quickly in the psyches of immigrants; they get it quickly or they don't survive. YaaaHooooooooooo! We are sophomoric by nature.

May. 20 2011 10:21 AM
nigia Stephens from bronx

I I feel the perp walk is fine. We have retaliation if you are wrongly accused, we sue. If you are too rich to sue, you may spin and tweak your own image after the case. In the case of The Head of the IMF, the French seem to love this guy. Anything we do with him will seem shameful to them.

May. 20 2011 10:21 AM

In Medieval times in Germany, there was a post on a raised platform to which they would chain guilty people. That person stood there and the entire town could walk by and shout things at them. It's called a Pranger, and Germans still use the expression "to stand someone in a Pranger."

This reminds me of a Medieval Pranger.

May. 20 2011 10:21 AM
john from new york city

The NYPD still perp walks. Last year's Green Venom pit bust was evident of that. The cops took the ringleader, the music producer, and the magazine guy and made sure they went first for their perp walk. Perhaps they were probably just trying to please the feds.

May. 20 2011 10:20 AM
Robert from NYC

Well it's a right here as well, it's just that it's ignored here!

May. 20 2011 10:18 AM
M. A. Ostrowski

Since people enjoy hammering the French, I'd like to point out that similar laws protecting the identity of accused but not convicted people are not uncommon in Europe. I know for a fact that it is the same case in Germany and Holland, for example.

May. 20 2011 10:17 AM
Greta from Stamford CT

Doesn't there need to be sufficient evidence to obtain an arrest warrant? - that enough is fine with me to be exposed on a "prep walk"

May. 20 2011 10:16 AM
Leah from Brooklyn

The caller is ridiculous. "Innocent until proven guilty" PLUS "If you don't want the walk don't do the crime"? How does that even make sense? You're assuming they're already guilty and that's why the deserve the punishment of the walk!

May. 20 2011 10:15 AM
Merrill Clark from Summit, NJ

I recall reading when Guiliani was the head of the SDNY prosecutors and after a big financial arrest, Guiliani evidently made the perp walk floor by floor in the building of the financial institution where the perp worked.

May. 20 2011 10:15 AM
bernie from bklyn

leave it to the BL show to extract only the mundane and procedural aspects of this story. with all the facts in this case do we really need to discuss how DSK is moved around?
ok, maybe now we can have one of brian's 5 million segments about the census.
what happened to this show?

May. 20 2011 10:14 AM
Leah from Brooklyn

Even the name belies our "innocent until proven guilty" ideals. Perp...etrator walk? When you haven't been convicted of anything?

May. 20 2011 10:14 AM
Mike from NYC

The "perp walk" is a violation of the presumption of innocence. The rights of people who are arrested are the same as any innocent citizen until they are convicted. Our society is supposed to arrest people to be held for trial, after which they may be punished. The arrest in itself is NOT to be a punishment.

May. 20 2011 10:13 AM
Mick from New York City

News photographers are not paparazzi. Please correct this concept as this hurts photojournalists and press photographers when you lump them together as one.

May. 20 2011 10:12 AM
Renee Rayson from NY, NY

I think the perp walk is a great American tradition. Once some female number runners in my neighborhood were arrested and one lady had peed her pants, but she held her head up high, and strutted proudly to the police van in her 3 inch heels. Wow! That's how you do it! With some style, some panache! Or you throw a coat over your head and run. This is America, you can choose!!

May. 20 2011 10:12 AM
Michael from Manhattan

"If you don't want to do the perp walk, then don't do the crime," our mayor proclaims. Well, how about people who turn about to be innocent? Or are the police now judge and jury?

May. 20 2011 10:11 AM
Leo from queens

The judicial system in NYC is "Guilty until you can prove you are innocent".. NYC government officials and those connected to government and the ruling class in the City are above the law and are not responsible or accountable. - The common people, and those not part of NYC government are always criminal scum unless they can prove otherwise beyond a reasonable doubt.

Civil rights don't exist in NYC

May. 20 2011 10:10 AM

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