Wrongful convictions happen all the time. Recent studies have shown staggering results about the number of people who are wrongfully convicted in the U.S. for all sorts of crimes. These convictions occur for several reasons. False or mistaken eyewitness identifications, perjury or false testimony, and a shocking number of cases involving prosecutorial or police misconduct are all attributable to this rampant injustice.
The attitude of most people is that if someone is charged with a crime they are guilty. There is such a “Get the bad guy” attitude that there is little concern over sending an innocent person to prison. We as Americans boast about our freedoms but do we really protect them? That is what the criminal justice system was designed to do. Yet how many people want to get out of jury duty? Juries are the foundation of our system. Juries decide whether a person goes free or is imprisoned. My experience is that jurors do not take this responsibility seriously. They see it as an inconvenience. Forget about justice if a jury has to start deliberations on Friday afternoon! They would rather vote guilty and go home. Who can be bothered actually deliberating?!
Recent studies have shown 873 faulty convictions. Out of 416 homicide cases where individuals were exonerated, 64% were attributed, at least in part, to perjury or false accusation. What is worse, 56% of the exonerations were attributed to either prosecutorial or police misconduct which included the withholding of evidence favorable to the suspect.
Eyewitness identification is extremely troubling. There are so many reasons why an eyewitness identification can be unreliable. Yet, juries love that dramatic moment in a trial where the witness points to a defendant and says, “He did it.” The truth is that out of 203 sexual assault cases, 80% involved mistaken eyewitness identification! 80 %! Faulty witness identification was a factor in 81% of the robbery cases in this study! 81% is not a small amount!
We have to get to a point where we all agree that ONE wrongful conviction is too many!