A three-year study conducted by the Washington Institute for Public and International Affairs Research at American University has identified 10 factors common in wrongful convictions, as opposed to cases in which innocent defendants are acquitted or have their charges dismissed before trial. Funded by the U.S. Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice, the first of its kind study, “Predicting Erroneous Convictions: A Social Science Approach to Miscarriages of Justice,” sought to identify why innocent people in the United States go to prison for violent crimes they didn’t commit. read more
JUSTICE OUT OF ORDER.
“You’re out of order! You’re out of order! The whole trial is out of order” Al Pacino, as attorney Arthur Kirkland, in the 1979 film, “…And Justice For All,” tells the judge and courtroom.That was thirty years ago; now, in any courtroom in the country, Pacino would be more correct in adding, “…the whole SYSTEM is out of order!.” America must be doing some things right, though, since we imprison more than any country, where such records are available, on the planet. Per 100,000 in population, the U.S. puts away more than 700 while most other countries have imprisonment rates under 200. Even China has only 117 per 100,000; India only 29; Canada, 116; Mexico,169. The American Justice System has become the most efficient conviction machine in the known universe.
Yet, the public’s perception is that crime rates are up; that prosecutors let criminals off all too frequently, that the guilty go free on the whim of a judge or because of a rouge jury, a la O.J. Simpson. What IS going on?
All those within the justice system, from law enforcement to those in the highest justice offices, are elected, appointed, advanced, ranked, paid, based on number of convictions. Convictions are the currency of justice. Too many acquittals translates to “soft on crime.”
At the core of the system is the trial, by judge or jury. Conceived as a forum to to dole out justice to seekers of truth, the trial has morphed into a diabolical arena of conflict, where anything goes. read more
For more detail on Michael Goodwin’s wrongful conviction, go to FRIENDS OF MICHAEL GOODWIN.