There are several reasons for wrongful convictions. Half of the wrongful convictions can be blamed on police misconduct and other wrongful convictions included false statements and mistaken identity. Wrongful convictions could and should be prevented. One of the most common forms of police misconduct is use of force. We can reduce and eliminate wrongful convictions by punishing police and witnesses who conduct illegal activity and lie on the stand under oath.
Wrongful conviction can be described as a miscarriage of justice or an unfair decision in a court of law. It is important to identify wrongful convictions and find ways to reduce or eliminate the causes. We need to free the wrongly prosecuted through DNA testing and help educate the public that wrongful convictions are not isolated or rare events that happen. The major causes of wrongful convictions that occur now days are police misconduct, false statements, and mistaken identity.
Three leading causes of wrongful convictions are mistaken identity, false confessions, and police misconduct. Each instance is unacceptable and preventable. Many times people lie out of spite or to receive immunity for a crime. Police misconduct and prosecutorial conduct lead to false confessions and the abuse of innocent people. Police sometimes accidentally mishandle evidence. The majority of police misconduct is not accidental. Innocent people loose their freedom due to wrongful convictions.
If we hit people in the pocket book they will not commit illegal acts to gain a conviction. We need to punish police harshly. Police do not do well in prison. If they thought their actions would send them to prison they might reconsider their actions. Mistaken identity should be taken more seriously. We can not allow people leniency if we feel they are lying. Prosecutors need to only convict if they know beyond a reasonable doubt the person is guilty.
Kenneth Adams, was one of four men wrongfully convicted and after serving more than half of their sentences, they had their convictions overturned because of DNA (Warden, 2002). Kenneth Adams would not have lost precious years of his life had Paula Gray not lied about being a secured witness to the abduction and murder of Lawrence Lionberg and Carol Schmal and rape of Ms.Schmal. The Ford Height Four were able to gain representation by sparking the interest of Northwestern University journalism students who in turn came across valuable information that they shared with the Cook County State’s Attorney. Had the police followed proper protocol and procedure, the case would have gone smoother without the lost of precious time and money. Police misconduct costed Cook County $36 million, the largest such settlement in U.S. history. Perry Cobb and Algie Crivens both lost 10 years due to informant perjury, false eyewitness identification, failure to pursue alternative suspect, police misconduct, ineffective assistance of counsel and prosecutorial misconduct. Both were charged with murder and both endured long agonizing trials and years behind bars (Warden, 2002).
In conclusion conservatives defend the death penalty, and liberal reject it, which makes for a worthwhile debate, but the real issue is wrongful conviction. A defense of the death penalty as a deterrent or appropriate retribution is not a defense of wrongful conviction. No one wants innocent people convicted. Even if they escape execution, innocents still spend years of their lives in prison awaiting exoneration. The broader issue is the high rate of wrongful conviction. We must understand and draw attention to the fact that wrongful conviction is not confined to capital offenses. If the justice system cannot convict the right person in murder cases, or convict the defendant lawfully according to the rules, how can we have any confidence that police and prosecutors are doing better when it comes to burglary, white-collar criminals, and drug dealers? We can’t. No one can assure us that we will be protected form the justice system. One of the main reasons discussed in our paper was perjury. It wasn’t the number one reason, but it holds a lot of weight in wrongful convictions. Perjury is embedded in the dominion of federal law enforcement. People’s homes are invaded because of lies. People are arrested because of lies. People go to prison because of lies. People stay in prison because of lies, and bad guys go free because of lies. We tried to focus on the problem of wrongful convictions and how corrupt justice goes deeper than law enforcement personnel and cannot be corrected by complaining or exposing a few cases. The very concept of law that protects us from cruelty has been misplaced. Law is no longer the people's shield; law has become a weapon in the hands of government. Justice is no longer a concern of the justice system it is everybody’s concern.
The Innocence Commission A solution to wrongful convictions