Eyewitness misidentification has been a contributing factor in over 75% of wrongful convictions in recent years. In this article we take a look at what is a widespread problem – Part 1 of a series on The Common Causes of Wrongful Convictions.
Although many prosecutors go to great lengths to cover up evidence that suggests a wrongful conviction has been obtained, some make an effort to do the right thing. As seen in a recent case involving state’s attorney Richard Schmack.
One of the most infuriating aspects of the criminal justice system is that there is virtually no punishment for prosecutors who send innocent people to prison. Government lawyers are almost never held personally accountable for destroying the lives of innocent defendants and their families.
Owning up to past mistakes is crucial for the growth of any democratic nation. Acknowledging that we screwed up, and understanding exactly what went wrong, allows us to take steps to prevent similar screw-ups in the future. This applies to wrongful convictions.
If God forbid, one of your loved ones was killed by another human being, would you want the true killer to be brought to justice? Or would you settle for someone who the government says is the perpetrator but is actually innocent?
Unfortunately, real life is not like the popular TV show CSI. In this and other police procedurals, forensic work is depicted as an exact science that has universally agreed upon standards. Far too often, however, this is simply not the case. Many times, it is the detective who tells the forensic technicians who the suspect is, and then ask those technicians to assemble forensic data “supporting” that pre-established conclusion.
Another win for the Conviction Review Unit in the Brooklyn D.A.’s office. Overzealous prosecutors who care more about defending the system than keeping innocent people out of prison should take careful note of this D.A.’s words, because the way that you preserve the integrity of the system is by convicting the actual perpetrator and exonerating the wrongfully convicted.
Recently, the news outlets reported that the Chinese government has revived a Mao-era practice of public confessions called “jiantao”. For purely political reasons, the Chinese government forces individuals to go on television and confess to ‘crimes’ that the State claims have undermined its authority.