A Look at What’s Behind Wrongful Convictions – MDCLC

Kimberly2 1Author:

Kimberly J. Benjamin, Founder & Managing Attorney

Missouri residents may be interested in a study that shows that some wrongful convictions involve more than just misconduct by the prosecutors or police. One example of this is a man who spent almost three decades in prison for a murder of which he said he was innocent. The conviction was based on the testimony of supposed eyewitnesses who were later said to have been coerced by prosecutors.

It is not uncommon for wrongful conviction cases to involve some wrongdoing by the police and prosecutors. However, recent studies show that the problem runs deeper. A Texas State University criminologist found that a mixture of group thinking and confirmation bias along with a desire to quickly identify the perpetrator has led to some innocent people being sent to prison.

Police and prosecutors may get tunnel vision. They find the person they believe to be the suspect and focus their attention on that individual. They ignore other pieces of evidence that could prove their suspect is innocent. There was a case in which a 15-year-old high school student was murdered. Police immediately focused on one of her classmates. Even though DNA evidence showed that the classmate was innocent, and there was evidence that another individual may have been responsible, the police had created their theory and stuck to it.

This led to a young man being convicted after giving a false confession that he later retracted. After serving 16 years in prison and pleading to have the DNA found at the crime scene compared against the crime database, the wrongfully convicted individual was exonerated.

The criminal justice system is a fundamental part of the US government and society. Criminal defense attorneys are tasked with defending their clients regardless of the guilt or innocence of the crime of which they have been accused. Criminal defense attorneys may be able to help clients at any stage of the justice system.

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