Thursday, August 09, 2012

Recent academic writing on actual innocence

CrimProf Blog has recently pointed out a number of innocence-related academic articles that may interest Grits readers:


Anonymous said...

Interesting quote here from the last footnote of "The Innocent Defendant's Dilemma.." article:

Despite Risinger's wisdom about not attempting a global estimate of how many innocents are convicted, I continue to try to at least surround the problem. We do know some things for certain. An Institute of Justice monograph published in 1999 contained a study of roughly 21,000 cases in which laboratories compared DNA of the suspect with DNA from the crime scene. Remarkably, the DNA tests exonerated the prime suspect in 23% of the cases. In another 16%, the results were inconclusive. Because the inconclusive results must be removed from the sample, the police were wrong in one case in four. The prime suspect was innocent in one case out of four!

A while back there was someone on here who kept making the absurd argument, based on some article that examined a limited number of exonerations, that there were only 17 cases where people were wrongly convicted in Texas. Well, this would seem to indicate the number of wrongly convicted could be as high as 25%...

Anonymous said...

12:24 -

I'm not familiar with the 1999 study you refer to. Can you give a citation? Is it available on-line?


Anonymous said...

1:05 - I quoted that paragraph from the "The Innocent Defendant's Dilemma.." article Grits wrote about. You can find the link in Grit's post. The citation to the 1999 study is in the article.

Anonymous said...

1:05 here.

I've researched this a bit more.

The monograph is: Convicted by Juries, Exonerated by Science: Case Studies in the Use of DNA Evidence to Establish Innocence After Trial.

It is a 1996 publication (not 1999). It is available free from the National Institute of Justice website.The study referred to is described on page 20.

The Urban Institute published a study this year of 634 homicide and sexual assault convictions in Virginia from 1973 to 1978. That study concluded that the percent of incorrect convictions was about 5%. That is a bit higher than other estimates, which are generally in the 3% range.

25% seems way to high for a wrongly convicted rate. But the study referred to in the quote was not looking at wrongly convicted invidivuals. It was looking at individuals who were suspected based on information available to the laboratories, which is often incomplete. So it's kind of an apples and organges thing.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

FWIW, IMO the wrongful conviction rate is likely somewhere between 1.5-2.5%. See the second half of this post for a summation of the various, more recent estimates.

Anonymous said...

1:05 - you took my post a little too seriously. The point I was trying to make was about the guy using the 17 number. AFter I posted I remembered that he was talking about cases involving prosecutorial misconduct. My point was that, using his kind of logic I could pull something out of a study and make similarly absurd argument.

Anonymous said...

But when sworn in at the plea hearing, the Judge asks "are you pleading guilty, because you are guilty, and for no other reason?

Then isn't the innocent defendant who plead guilty committing perjury?

rodsmith said...

well 7:21 you could say they are just returning LIE for LIE considering some of the whoppers coming from govt lately!

especialy in criminal justice where 5 min of stupdity can bring you 20 diff charges in 3 diff jurisctions with a lifetime possible in prison!

so if you have to lie to a criminal sack of shit to get ANY shot a freedom at some point.

All i can say is GO FOR IT!

Gritsforbreakfast said...

7:21, some prosecutors do pursue such charges, but courts haven't always been sympathetic. Attorney Walter Reaves addressed that question a few years back on his blog:

"Long ago the United States Supreme recognized that defendants might who don't believe they are guilty might not want to risk going to trial. Although this can be he subject of a separate post, its basically common sense. Would you rather be innocent and spend 10 years in prison or innocent and spend 50 years in prison. Prosecutors know this, and sometimes make offers too good to be true. So a defendant basically fibs, and admits guilt in return for a favorable outcome.

"The Court of Criminal Appeals recognized this a few years ago in DNA cases. Some of the persons who have been exonerated actually plead guilty originally. The court recognized there could be a number of reasons for pleading guilty, and held that would not prevent you from claiming innocence and filing a motion for DNA testing."

Bottom line: The idea that people plea guilty for "no other reason" than guilt is a legal fiction, not an expression of reality.

Unknown said...

It's a novel titled DEPRAVED PROSECUTION, based on the Morton (exoneration) murder case:

Anonymous said...

Finally I think people are getting fed up with our broken justice system. I plan to be a part of Bill Windsor's film, Lawless America, and tell the account of my harassment (including sexual) from the DA's office in Dallas.

Thomas R. Griffith said...

Hey Grits, appreciate the info. and for the record -

(Yes there's a GFB record) folks should never be allowed to forget that every single CrimProf article, link and report (including Archives) is 100% void of information regarding; *false arrests based on non-existent (OTW) outstanding traffic warrants, *forced participation in live Show-Ups, *subsequent charges being sought & filed based on positive Id's despite gross discrepancies including cross races, *detectives catching it, allowing crime victims to re-describe the suspects and seeking charges *gross plea bargain process abuses via tricking defendants on probation into changing plea during lunch recess - "Take the offer, Guilty or Not, you are going to prison just for being on probation at time of arrest, it doesn’t matter that you don’t fit the description(s) or have 5 alibis & receipt showing you were miles away."

When large areas of concern (methods of seeking & obtaining false arrests & wrongful convictions) are being actively condoned by the courts and ignored by; researchers, reporters, professors, attorneys / lawyers, post conviction CYA units, Senators, churches, projects & mirrors of projects we get fuzzy math percentages and retarded reports.

Ask a probationer if they appealed a plea bargain and you are going get silence or WTF? I could’ve appealed? When all appeals have to be exhausted in order to qualify for post conviction assistance or inclusion in math problems in non –DNA actual / factual / provable claims you get labeled “cherry picker”.

When they accept my challenge to “STOP” I’ll let you all know. In the mean time, of course we’ll hear that it’s better than nothing. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

In my experience, police perjury is out of control. The public and the defense know this and this prompts a false guilty plea. The police can lie with impunity, the prosecutor will hide evidence, the judge will sign it off and it is just another day in the office for the defense. The "means justifies the end" crowd will wail about 4th ammendment restrictions... But when this culture of perjury is condoned, where is the line? Is there some committe in the back room to establish your fate and do justice, hell no! No truth, no justice.

Unknown said...

4brycesbattle. I would like to say that despite what I read in any article, phamplet, study, book or other. I FULLY believe Wrongful Convictions are Epidemic, And this includes INTENTIONAL Wrongful Convictions. Here is one formula myself and many others go by... for every 1 wrongful conviction, there are 300 "or More" not being mentioned. You know it when it happens to you or someone you love.

Anonymous said...

"From May 9 through Aug. 6, 22 youths were arrested on charges of assault on a public servant, Hurley said."

Inmates over the age of 17 who assault can be charged.