Discussion False Convictions

March 8, 2022
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Discussion False Convictions

Discussion False Convictions

Convictions are what you believe in; it’s your beliefs and opinions. Just because you believe something, it doesn’t make it true. People’s convictions are objective and because of that sometimes people are wrong despite how strongly they believe in their thinking. Reading this passage, it’s saying that unknowingly lying is more dangerous to the truth than knowing that you are lying. When lying you know what the truth is, but when you hold false convictions you have ignorance to the truth. Coming to conclusions based on flawed thinking is dangerous to the truth. You can’t think critically about your opinions if you believe in something that just isn’t true.

A miscarriage of justice occurs when a grossly unfair outcome is made in a criminal or civil proceeding,[1] such as the conviction of a person for a crime that they did not commit.[2] There is no statute of limitations for purposes of investigating and correcting a miscarriage of justice.[1]

The main contributing factors for a miscarriage of justice to result are the following: eyewitness misidentification; faulty forensic analysis; false confessions by vulnerable suspects; perjury and lies stated by witnesses; misconduct by police, prosecutors or judges; and/or ineffective assistance of counsel (e.g., inadequate defense strategies by the defendant’s or respondent’s legal team).

The term is not to be confused with “errors of impunity” which applies to cases where a guilty person goes free.

There are two main methods for estimating the prevalence of wrongful convictions.

The first is the number of exonerations where the guilty verdict has been vacated or annulled by a judge or higher court after new evidence has been brought forward proving the ‘guilty’ person is, in fact, innocent. Since 1989, the Innocence Project has helped overturn 375 convictions of American prisoners with updated DNA evidence.[3] However, DNA testing occurs in only 5 to 10% of all criminal cases, and exonerations achieved by the Innocence Project are limited to murder and rape cases. This raises the possibility that there may be many more wrongful convictions for which there is no evidence available to exonerate the defendant. Studies cited by the Innocence Project estimate that between 2.3% and 5% of all prisoners in the U.S. are innocent.[4] However, a more recent study looking at convictions in the state of Virginia during the 1970s and 1980s and matching them to later DNA analysis estimates a rate of wrongful conviction at 11.6%.[5]

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A 2014 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences made a conservative estimate that 4.1% of inmates awaiting execution on death row in the United States are innocent.[6][7]

The second method for estimating wrongful convictions involves self-report. Researchers ask prisoners whether they have ever confessed to a crime which they did not commit. Self-report allows examination of any and all crimes where wrongful conviction may have occurred, not just murder and rape cases where DNA is available. Two Icelandic studies based on self-report conducted ten years apart found the rates of false confession to be 12.2% and 24.4% respectively. These figures provide a proxy for miscarriages of justice because “false confessions are highly likely to lead to wrongful convictions”.[8] A more recent Scottish study found the rate of self-reported false confessions among a group of inmates in one prison was 33.4%.[9]

Another study estimated that up to 10,000 people may be wrongfully convicted of serious crimes in the United States each year.[10] According to Professor Boaz Sangero of the College of Law and Business in Ramat Gan, most wrongful convictions in Israel relate to less serious crimes than major felonies such as rape and murder, as judicial systems are less careful in dealing with those cases.

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