Sunday, December 27, 2009

More Commentary on Wrongful Convictions

THREE DAYS after Donald E. Gates was released from prison after serving 28 years for a murder he didn't commit, federal prosecutors acknowledged that they received, but failed to act on, information discrediting testimony key to his conviction. In the same week, a Florida man imprisoned for 35 years for kidnapping and rape was freed after DNA tests proved his innocence. As appalling as the two cases are, what's even scarier is the thought that imperfections in the criminal justice system will go uncorrected and more people could be wrongly jailed.


Problem #1 - convicting an innocent person. Problem #2 - the real perpetrator may remain free to commit new crimes. Problem #3 - continuing failure to acknowledge that a problem exists. Problem #4 - continuing failure to take corrective action. Problem #5 - confidence in the criminal justice system continues to decline.

As noted in a previous post, the American public is loosing confidence in the criminal justice system. Accuracy counts, and the inability to accurately separate the guilty from the innocent remains problematic. Several states have taken steps to reduce the number of errors, but I fear that the reduction of funding will result in more cases of wrongful convictions.

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