What Causes Wrongful Convictions? Lies, Mistaken Eyewitnesses Top the List

By Eckel, Mike | The Christian Science Monitor, May 21, 2012 | Go to article overview

What Causes Wrongful Convictions? Lies, Mistaken Eyewitnesses Top the List


Eckel, Mike, The Christian Science Monitor


Researchers examined 873 wrongful convictions and found that perjury or false accusations were responsible for more than half. New report offers insight into what leads to miscarriages of justice.

False accusations, official misconduct, and mistaken eyewitness identity are the primary reasons behind hundreds of wrongful convictions nationwide over the past 23 years, legal researchers conclude in a new report.

The report, released Sunday, is part of a database compiled by the University of Michigan and Northwestern University law schools that for the first time tries to pinpoint the problem of flawed judicial outcomes in state and federal courts.

Researchers identified 873 wrongful convictions between January 1989 and March 2012; 46 percent of the cases examined were homicides, 35 percent were sexual assaults, and the remainder were other crimes. Half involved African-Americans, 38 percent whites, and 11 percent Latinos. The report concluded that perjury or false accusations were responsible for just over half of the failures, followed by mistaken eyewitness identification, official misconduct, false or misleading evidence, or false confession.

The number is tiny compared with the hundreds of millions of criminal cases handled over the same period, says Samuel Gross, a University of Michigan law professor and lead author. The figure is based on formal decisions by courts or executive officers; the majority of the wrongful convictions were cleared without the use of DNA evidence.

"These are the ones we know about. They don't give us any direct measure of how common false convictions are across the system," Mr. Gross says. "They just give us a sense of the ones that have come to light."

Stanley Fisher, a criminal law professor at Boston University who is not affiliated with the report, says the effort is part of a larger trend over the past two decades called the "Innocence Revolution." Breakthroughs in the use of DNA evidence and greater awareness of past abuses had prompted reforms in police and court procedures, such as videotaping confessions from crime suspects, he says.

The trend has been fueled not only by DNA testing, but also by social science research that has questioned the reliability of long- standing police techniques such as how suspects in a crime are lined up against a wall and picked out by an eyewitness, or how photographs are shown to witnesses. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

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 article

This article 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 article

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

Cited article

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 article

What Causes Wrongful Convictions? Lies, Mistaken Eyewitnesses Top the List
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

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

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.

    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.