Monday, May 21, 2012

Northwestern University/University of Michigan National Exonneration Registry this morning reports that "perjury, faulty eyewitness identification and prosecutorial misconduct are the leading reasons for wrongful convictions according to the first national registry of exonerations – a database compiled in collaboration by the University of Michigan and Northwestern University, which has identified 873 faulty convictions in the past 23 years that have been recognized by prosecutors, judges or governors." [ National Registry of Exonnerations ]

Cases in the registry were identified from court documents and included catalogs of wrongful convictions maintained by advocates for the wrongfully convicted, including the The Innocence Project, a New York-based group that pursues exonerations through DNA testing, the article said, but that their numbers, which do not include many cases in which innocent suspects plead guilty to avoid the risk of more serious punishments or cases that have been dismissed because of legal error without new evidence of innocence, represent only a fraction of the problem in the nation's criminal justice system.

"Despite the data, the registry concluded that the 'overwhelming majority of convicted defendants were guilty' … Most never disputed their guilt and few ever present substantial post-conviction evidence of innocence.When that does happen, however, it should be taken seriously. …We cannot prevent all false convictions, but we must not compound these tragedies by stubbornness or arrogance or, worst of all, indifference."

Northwestern University Center on Wrongful Convictions

CBS, Time, The L.A. Times and Boston Herald all had articles.

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