The Innocence Commission: Preventing Wrongful Convictions and Restoring the Criminal Justice System

By Jon B. Gould | Go to book overview

1
History and Background

Twenty years ago, the claim that innocent people had been wrongly convicted of serious crimes would have been “treated with general incredulity.” By 2001, however, a “Harris Poll found 94 percent of Americans believed that innocent defendants are sometimes executed.”1 How did we get to this point? Many observers point their fingers at DNA testing, saying the exonerations that came to light in the late 1990s made it impossible to deny that the criminal justice system makes mistakes. But this was hardly the first evidence of erroneous convictions; that line of research goes back more than eighty years now and possibly much longer, depending on whom you believe.

There sometimes is a tendency to see wrongful convictions as a legal issue. That is, the causes of wrongful convictions rest with officers and agents of a legal process; the existence of such errors represents the denial of important legal protections; and the response to mistaken convictions is legal reforms pressed by legal activists and adopted by lawmakers or jurists. Such a view, however, misses the broader, political context in which policy issues are identified, advanced, and resolved in America. Erroneous convictions have become a cause célèbre, not simply because there now is incontrovertible evidence of innocence, but also because changes in political and social life have raised the salience of the issue. In turn, a legal and political constituency arose to demand the resolution of this problem, and people from across the political spectrum—most notably, traditional conservatives—came to support reform.

Nor can we ignore the issue's connection to the death penalty, where the stakes of error are much higher than for other felonies. Indeed, the fact that many of the first erroneous convictions were found in capital cases propelled the issue ahead at a sometimes breakneck pace in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But no one should be fooled into believing that wrongful convictions exist only in capital matters; in fact, the

-11-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Innocence Commission: Preventing Wrongful Convictions and Restoring the Criminal Justice System
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 346

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.