Wrongful convictions can happen, they should be looked at more by the system as more of a tragedy, but they do happen. In the criminal justice system there are so many different aspects and loop holes that effect the outlook on crime, let alone the convictions that happen. If we can look at all of the good that this system brings. All of the restitution paid, all of the criminals who committed a crime and have served what they deserve. I feel as if we can look so strongly at all of the good, we need to also look at the bad more intensely. The bad is what goes on the news.
The bad is what makes cops, prosecutors, and judges look bad. On this task force, I want to review different aspects of our system that can be strongly correlated with wrongful convictions. To start, there are many things that are attributed to wrongful convictions. For one, the adversarial process can have a huge impact on many cases that are wrongful convictions. Of course, the system is great on convicting the right people. But, can have steady impacts on someone who did not commit a crime being accused. For instance, within our adversarial process, the role of bias plays a big part in how the case is run.
Whether it be deeply ingrained biases growing up, or just a prejudice that came about from growing up it has immense repercussions on wrongful convictions. Next, is a huge factor that affects many wrongful convictions cases. That would be eyewitness identification. Eyewitness identification has some good factors but also many bad factors. For instance, we looked into many studies on how sequential lineups can reduce false identifications of innocent suspects by reducing eyewitnesses’ reliance on relative judgment processes (Lindsay & Wells, 1985, p. 556).
But also ow people struggle to recall a certain person they have maybe seen in another situation. Another topic that’s become a growing topic is forensic evidence misconduct/errors. Many aspects can go into the makings of forensic evidence misconduct/errors. Many researchers like to study the quality control and training. The growing concern is whether bias and beliefs can greatly affect the outcome of an expert interpreting information like finger prints. Some studies even show that int identification decision of experts are vulnerable to irrelevant and misleading contextual influences (Dror, Charlton, Peron, 2005).
Police can also have a huge impact in the criminal justice system along with how the process goes. So interrogations and confessions falls into the category of a factor that could greatly affect a wrongful conviction case. This accounts for about twenty percent of DNA exonerated wrongful convicted cases. This also has impacts in how people confess whether it being a true or false confession. But police tactics in the process can greatly affect how the courts handle them afterwards. Lastly, is informants/ jailhouse snitches.
This doesn’t account for as much as interrogations/confessions. However, there are many issues that can arise from dealing with this. In many cases, investigators are trusting criminals to give testimony on another which is both good and bad. These are criminals with nothing to lose so many argue that they shouldn’t be trusted. In discussion of the many big factors associated with wrongful conviction. I would like to touch upon three of these that are important in our system to help prevent wrongful convictions.
Going back, in the adversarial process, even though most of the people working hard for this system are heavily educated, many factors can blind them in completing a case correctly. First of all, in the adversarial process there can be a role of bias that hinders the attempts to do fulfilling work. There are many different biases that could attribute to this happening. These could include, confirmation bias, hind sight bias, cognitive dissonance etc. My point is to talk about how some of these cognitive biases can greatly affect the court system.
First, when we think of a bias I have to give an example. That being a rape case in which an African American male is being accused of rape by a white women. In this case, I think that if there comes a prosecution of mostly white males or females that in some way shape or form will be at least some sort of bias and some sort of resentment towards the truth. Even if an ethical rule that governs prosecutorial disclosure is unlikely to alter the psychology of prosecutors trained to apply the well-known, constitutionally based Brady standard.
As an initial matter, prosecutors receive far more training about the constitutional rules of criminal procedure than about ethical rules (Burke, 2006). This is from a lawyer himself, who believes and has seen in similar cases than the one I described that there is an issue with bias. Next, I want to write about a topic that some people feel is an issue but may not be after all. That is defense lawyer behavior. Most of the time we think of a defense lawyer as someone who doesn’t care and should not be apt for anyone’s court appointed lawyer compared to a paid lawyer.
But like anything else, this could prove to not be true so I want to show two sides. With court public defenders compared to private attorneys, one can’t help but think that a paid lawyer will help you out much more than the defense. Which is why research has shown that private attorneys and public defenders securing similar adjucation and sentencing outcomes for their clients, while assigned counsel generated less favorable outcomes in terms of likelihood of conviction, state imprisonment, and sentence length (Cohen, 2012). Now when one talks about eyewitness testimony, it is understood by what only seems as researchers as a bad thing.
With that being said, I say that because eyewitness identification takes up 70% of all wrongful convictions. With eye witness identification, we always think of sequential and simultaneous lineups. They sequential is one by one and simultaneous is all at once. We tend to think that one would be better than the other that being sequential is the better of the two. With eyewitness identification, these are the single most important parts. The ones that a person has the choice to decide if they have seen them. The findings suggest that the sequential lineup reduces mistaken identifications from culprit-absent lineups.
The sequential lineup also produces more culprit identifications when the offender is in the lineup (Steblay, Dysart, 2011). With these we can understand that when dealing with eyewitness identifications, it only makes it confusing the find the true way to get a person to identify the correct person. Also in eyewitness identification, there is the cross-race effect, which can seriously hurt individuals that are obviously of the opposite race. In this case, many issues can arise with wrongful convictions and the problem leads back to the biases that can happen and the want for justice. We can reduce this by finding the causes.
The causes could come from, peoples have a lack of experience with cross-race faces, and second, many people tend to think of others in terms of labels (or “categories”) rather than as individuals, failing to look past the category to the unique individual (Wilson, Hugenberg, 2013). Lastly, there are many takes on forensic evidence, many things are involved with forensic evidence. This can be schooling, actual experience, and going back again, bias. These can hinder the process of completing a successful trial where justice is served. III start by saying that people sometimes trust some evidence too much.
For instance, this could be bite marks, shoe prints etc. Sometimes prosecutors take these into too much consideration and not evidence back science. In an article from “Science, Technology, or the Expert Witness: What Influences Jurors’ Judgments about Forensic Science Testimony? ” they write “There appears to be little or no relationship between experience and accuracy in identification by bitemarks” (Bowers, 2010). Another pivotal issue arises when there are professionals who might not be experienced and not understand how to see when something is close but not enough for match.
This can be thought of as a huge issue. With scientific support it is found that experts were no better at finding a matching pair of prints, they were more experienced in knowing when a similar finger print was not in fact a match (Martire, Kemp, Watkins, Sayle, Newell, 2013). All in all, wrongful convictions are a big debate. Some feel that it is not an issue and choose to not acknowledge the problem, whereas some go strive to find an issue. My recommendation to you would be as follows. I would like to put more budget into finding a scientific way to reduce wrongful convictions from eyewitness testimony.
My reasoning for this is because, so far we know about 70% of all wrongful convictions result from eyewitness testimony. This is understood, but, there are measures we can take to reduce the wrongful conviction. One issue that can we can use is to up our funding for the cognitive interview to gain better and more accurate information from witnesses. It has been proven to show a big increase in factual information with only a slight increase in incorrect information (Memon, Meissner, 2010). I would like to have a heavily trained state to interview most if not all witnesses this way to ensure that we can try to push that 70% into even 1% less.
Also from Memon. A lot can be learned from this article to gain the information we need. He concludes that, twenty-five years of empirical research has shown the Cl to be an effective method of interviewing witnesses (Memon, Meissner, 2010). What we can grasp from this is, even if there are improvements in this study. We can improve our system and state by including this in our training for officers. I hope you can read this and apply it to your thoughts about a growing issue in this country. We can be the first to change and what a change we can make.