While there are high-profile and sensational stories involving wrongful convictions that make national news, there was little data about the total amount of people incarcerated for crimes they did not commit. One study sought to change this, and Missouri residents might like to know the results of the study.
In a study surveying 3,000 incoming prisoners in Pennsylvania, six percent reported a wrongful conviction. This is the first research that looked at convictions for charges that range from serious to minor and included charges of drug possession, armed robbery and theft. The false conviction rate of rape, murder and other capital crimes is thought to be at around 3-5 percent of cases.
As a prisoner could lie about being wrongfully convicted, the six percent estimate is considered an upper-bound estimate, which means the rate of false convictions could be lower than six percent. Prisoners were asked about convictions instead of professionals working in the criminal justice system because prisoners were thought to be more aware of the role they played in their alleged crimes.
It is hard to say for sure whether everyone who reported being wrongfully convicted was honest, but it is important to note that many inmates involved in the study did take full or partial responsibility for the crimes involved in their convictions. About a quarter of inmates took partial responsibility while two-thirds took full responsibility. Answers were submitted anonymously and could not be traced back to anyone.
Before conviction occurs, there could be many steps involved in a case. This could involve reviewing and challenging evidence, which might comprise of physical evidence and statements from witnesses. A criminal defense attorney might challenge evidence so that it is inadmissible during a trial. This could result in dropped or lessened charges. An attorney might also negotiate a plea bargain in other circumstances.