Extended Stay: The Bike Incident
Episode 5.5  / Memory Motel
For this Extended Stay*, “The Bike Incident,” we continue the discussion of law and memory from episode #05 — “Court of Memory” — with another story of eyewitness misidentification that steered Caroline Sarnoff’s criminal justice career toward reforming the system.
If law enforcement asked you to answer a few questions, you may not welcome the invitation with glee, but Caroline Sarnoff, as an aspiring criminologist in her first year of college, did. She thought she’d hit the lottery when campus police wanted to question her about a bike stolen in her dorm, but her initial excitement quickly vanished when they accused her of stealing the bike. In “The Bike Incident,” Caroline finds herself on the wrong end of what she would eventually study: a coercive plea bargain, a false confession, and an eyewitness misidentification. What started as an opportunity to observe law enforcement at work escalates in a way that she could never have anticipated. Now, Caroline Sarnoff works as the Assistant Director of Data Outreach for Measures for Justice, which allows the justice system to see what needs reform through aggregated data. “If you can see what the problem is,” Caroline says, “then you can change it.”
*An “Extended Stay” is Memory Motel’s version of bonus material, a chance to linger, to hear one more story, to stay with an idea, theme, memory or thought before traveling on to the next episode.