⌚ The Importance Of Wrongful Convictions

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The Importance Of Wrongful Convictions

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Wrongful convictions: Rob Warden at TEDxMidwest

However, empirical data has now revealed that many innocent defendants have been convicted on the basis of their false confessions White, The following section will analyze false confessions and how they happen. This section will examine the characteristics of a defendant that may alter a confession, and then go on to looking at. Throughout this book we learn stories about those who were wrongfully convicted and later proven guilty for reasons such as DNA. The United States criminal justice system can be described as flawed in many ways. Some of these flaws have a larger impact on the people of this country than others.

Two of the largest problems we have currently revolve around the issues of wrongful convictions and prosecutorial misconduct. The whole criminal justice system revolves around making sure people follow the laws put in place, and if they do not punish them for their wrongdoing. This system is also about affording the same rights to every. During the past twenty years reports have shown cases where people had been wrongfully convicted and exonerated in murder and rape cases. Before , the first year to use post-conviction DNA testing was used to establish innocent and even in capital punishment cases.

The University of Michigan Law School and Center for Wrongful Convictions recorded over 2, wrongful convictions who been exonerated for the past twenty years. There were exonerations, of those were homicide cases, were sexual assault, child sex abuse, 58 non-violent crimes, 47 robberies and 47 were for other violent crimes. For the past 23 years, over 2, wrongfully convicted persons have been exonerated OccupyTheory, Get Access. But to what extent is this necessary? There is now a wealth of evidence, from research conducted over several decades, suggesting that eyewitness testimony is probably the most persuasive form of evidence presented in court, but in many cases, its accuracy is dubious.

There is also evidence that mistaken eyewitness evidence can lead to wrongful conviction—sending people to prison for years or decades, even to death row, for crimes they did not commit. In a particularly famous case, a man named Ronald Cotton was identified by a rape victim, Jennifer Thompson, as her rapist, and was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. After more than 10 years, he was exonerated and the real rapist identified based on DNA evidence. There is also hope, though, that many of the errors may be avoidable if proper precautions are taken during the investigative and judicial processes. Psychological science has taught us what some of those precautions might involve, and we discuss some of that science now.

Some subjects were then asked leading questions about what had happened in the slides. Later, subjects were shown pairs of slides. One of the pair was the original slide containing the stop sign; the other was a replacement slide containing a yield sign. Subjects were asked which of the pair they had previously seen. Subjects who had been asked about the yield sign were likely to pick the slide showing the yield sign, even though they had originally seen the slide with the stop sign. In other words, the misinformation in the leading question led to inaccurate memory.

Even slight differences in the wording of a question can lead to misinformation effects. This is a problem particularly in cases where more than one person witnesses a crime. In these cases, witnesses tend to talk to one another in the immediate aftermath of the crime, including as they wait for police to arrive. But because different witnesses are different people with different perspectives, they are likely to see or notice different things, and thus remember different things, even when they witness the same event. The misinformation effect has been modeled in the laboratory. Researchers had subjects watch a video in pairs. Both subjects sat in front of the same screen, but because they wore differently polarized glasses, they saw two different versions of a video, projected onto a screen.

In the video, Eric the electrician is seen wandering through an unoccupied house and helping himself to the contents thereof. A total of eight details were different between the two videos. Four of these questions dealt with details that were different in the two versions of the video, so subjects had the chance to influence one another. Then subjects worked individually on 20 additional memory test questions. Eight of these were for details that were different in the two videos. That is, subjects allowed their co-witnesses to corrupt their memories for what they had seen. In addition to correctly remembering many details of the crimes they witness, eyewitnesses often need to remember the faces and other identifying features of the perpetrators of those crimes.

Eyewitnesses are often asked to describe that perpetrator to law enforcement and later to make identifications from books of mug shots or lineups. The eyewitness is given a set of small pictures of perhaps six or eight individuals who are dressed similarly and photographed in similar circumstances. If the eyewitness identifies the suspect, then the investigation of that suspect is likely to progress. If a witness identifies a foil or no one, then the police may choose to move their investigation in another direction.

This process is modeled in laboratory studies of eyewitness identifications. In these studies, research subjects witness a mock crime often as a short video and then are asked to make an identification from a photo or a live lineup. Sometimes the lineups are target present, meaning that the perpetrator from the mock crime is actually in the lineup, and sometimes they are target absent, meaning that the lineup is made up entirely of foils. The subjects, or mock witnesses , are given some instructions and asked to pick the perpetrator out of the lineup. The particular details of the witnessing experience, the instructions, and the lineup members can all influence the extent to which the mock witness is likely to pick the perpetrator out of the lineup, or indeed to make any selection at all.

Mock witnesses and indeed real witnesses can make errors in two different ways. They can fail to pick the perpetrator out of a target present lineup by picking a foil or by neglecting to make a selection , or they can pick a foil in a target absent lineup wherein the only correct choice is to not make a selection. Some factors have been shown to make eyewitness identification errors particularly likely. It is hard for the legal system to do much about most of these problems. Memory is also susceptible to a wide variety of other biases and errors. People can forget events that happened to them and people they once knew.

They can mix up details across time and place.

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