Convicting the Innocent: Where Criminal Prosecutions Go Wrong

Convicting the Innocent: Where Criminal Prosecutions Go Wrong Author Brandon L. Garrett
ISBN-10 0674066111
ISBN-13 9780674066113
Year 2012-09-03
Pages 376
Language English
Publisher Harvard University Press
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On January 20 1984 Earl Washingtondefended for all of forty minutes by a lawyer who had never tried a death penalty casewas found guilty of rape and murder in the state of Virginia and sentenced to death After nine years on death row DNA testing cast doubt on his conviction and saved his life However he spent another eight years in prison before more sophisticated DNA technology proved his innocence and convicted the guilty man DNA exonerations have shattered confidence in the criminal justice system by exposing how often we have convicted the innocent and let the guilty walk free In this unsettling in depth analysis Brandon Garrett examines what went wrong in the cases of the first 250 wrongfully convicted people to be exonerated by DNA testing Based on trial transcripts Garretts investigation into the causes of wrongful convictions reveals larger patterns of incompetence abuse and error Evidence corrupted by suggestive eyewitness procedures coercive interrogations unsound and unreliable forensics shoddy investigative practices cognitive bias and poor lawyering illustrates the weaknesses built into our current criminal justice system Garrett proposes practical reforms that rely more on documented recorded and audited evidence and less on fallible human memory Very few crimes committed in the United States involve biological evidence that can be tested using DNA How many unjust convictions are there that we will never discover Convicting the Innocent makes a powerful case for systemic reforms to improve the accuracy of all criminal cases

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