Causes of Wrongful Convictions
The startling number of exonerations involving DNA evidence has proven that the criminal justice system oftentimes makes serious mistakes. Those mistakes have a very real and devastating impact on everyone involved – from the innocent person who languishes for years in prison, to past and future victims of the real perpetrators who remain free to commit other crimes. Despite all of these costs, the prisoners who can be exonerated are the lucky ones. In the vast majority of cases, DNA evidence is not available to conclusively prove a prisoner’s innocence, either because the case did not involve biological evidence or because the biological evidence was destroyed.
Because of this unfortunate reality, MAIP and other advocates for innocent prisoners have spent a great deal of time studying the common causes of wrongful convictions and developing commonsense reforms that could prevent wrongful convictions before they occur. The most common causes of wrongful convictions are:
- Inadequate Defense Counsel
- Mistaken Eyewitness Identifications
- False Confessions
- Junk Science and Lab Fraud
- Incentivized or “Snitch” Testimony
- Police and Prosecutorial Misconduct
- Unavailability of Adequate Post-Conviction Remedies
To read more about any of these issues, click on the above links or visit the Innocence Commission for Virginia website at www.icva.us.