The US Justice has played a vital part in keeping the peace within communities and has done its job maintaining the law and order within the country. However, the rates for wrongful convictions are surprisingly high. According to research done by Samuel Gross, professor of law at the University of Michigan, in a fifteen-year study discovered that the rate of prisoners convicted wrongly was as high as 4.
1 percent, based on the number of people being held in death row.
Another study found that there are over 10,00 wrongful convictions every year in the United States. Most of these are minor felonies in which no serious examination of the evidence was done or appeals were given. These convictions can lead to many social implications for the defendant as they have been stripped of their freedom despite not having committed any wrongdoings.
Often there are several reasons why wrongful convictions can occur. One such example is Government Misconduct, in which government officials take action to convict the defendant despite lack of sufficient evidence. Often this is because of government officials misleading jurors in a court case, failing to turn over evidence to prosecutors, pressuring defense witnesses not to testify. Several states have put forth commissions to set standards and to improve the integrity within forensics labs, courts, and judicial review.
According to the Innocence Project, over 70 percent of wrongful convictions come from eyewitness misidentification. Often the cause of misidentification occurs because human memory has the ability to reconstruct what happens in the past rather than having a recording like a video. So often we overlook the fine details when we provide our eyewitness testimony. Often the rates for misidentification can be as high as 25 percent. Despite this, however, eyewitnesses often bring the strongest support to a case.
Sometimes it is bad lawyering that can lead wrongful convictions. Often lawyers who are overworked and underpaid, never fully prepare a court case. They also never fully call upon forensics to analyze the case or fail to show up to hearings. This, in turn, can lead to sentencing for the defendants and such lawyers have been disbarred from practicing law.
A study was done by the Innocence Project in which 1 out of 4 people who were wrongly convicted that were later exonerated, had used a false confession to prove their guilt. Often it is the imposing nature of the law that gets people to confess as they believe it will allow them to serve a lesser punishment. Often the best way to prevent false confessions is to electronically tape interrogations. This would help prove the integrity of the confession and would benefit both the defendants and law enforcement.
The primary goals of the United States Justice system are justice for individuals, personal liberty and dignity for all, and the right to due process. The system is not broken, it is functioning the way it was designed to, but it is the time we intervene and make improvements to serve the people.