Why Wrongful Convictions?
Study Explores Why Wrongful Convictions Happen | ThinkProgress
In the almost 25 years since post-conviction DNA evidence has been used to establish criminal innocence, public perception has been transformed by the realization that completely erroneous convictions are not uncommon, even in cases that land defendants on death row or in prison for life. A new exhaustive social science analysis of many of these exonerations since 1989 has identified ten primary factors that, together, have led to the convictions we now know were wrong.
The study by American University’s School of Public Affairs concludes that it is a confluence of circumstances – and the ultimate failure of prosecutors and/or defense attorneys to mitigate those circumstances – that makes the difference between a “near-miss” in which a person is indicted but never found guilty, and a wrongful conviction.
Some of the worst wrongful conviction cases have been linked to what is known as “tunnel vision,” in which a prosecutor who hones in one suspect has a tendency to reinforce beliefs of that suspect’s guilt, even when the evidence suggests otherwise.
From around the web –
From the web site, The Wrongful Convictions Blog: (A very strong blog with good writers.)
According to a report in the Coloradoan (here), on Saturday Lt. Jim Broderick, 56, resigned from the Fort Collins (Colorado) Police Services where he had worked for 33 years. His career had a dramatic reversal when he was indicted on charges of felony perjury in June 2010 in connection with the grand jury indictment and trial of Tim Masters. Masters, who was fifteen at the time of the 1987 murder of Peggy Hettrick, was convicted and spent ten years in prison before DNA testing of crime scene evidence prompted the vacation of his murder conviction. Broderick had been the investigator in the case.
The National Registry of Exonerations’ report on the case (here) lists the cause of this wrongful conviction as perjury or false accusation and official misconduct. Prosecutors allegedly failed to turn over evidence to the defense and Broderick allegedly lied to the grand jury to help secure the indictment against Masters.
From the web site, Pennsylvania Innocence Project:
Gould believes the paths to wrongful convictions begin in the interrogation room and suggests police make checklists and be proactive with forensic testing. Several of these factors are obviously discriminatory such as the defendant’s age and criminal background.
Regrettably, this discrimination happens on a reoccurring basis and no one should have to be penalized for a crime they didn’t commit whether it is due to their past, perjury, or the hidden motives of a legal team. At the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, we are incessantly working to prevent and bring attention to these transgressions within the legal system.
From the web site, Humans in Shadow:
In 1991, an unemployed printer named David Ranta was convicted of killing a Hasidic rabbi in Brooklyn.
Last week, Ranta was released from the maximum-security prison in which he’d spent nearly 22 years, after almost every piece of evidence used to convict him fell away. The New York Times reported  that the lead detectives on the case “broke rule after rule” — they “kept few written records, coached a witness and took Mr. Ranta’s confession under what a judge described as highly dubious circumstances.”
Last Friday, just a day after he was released, Ranta suffered a serious heart attack .