Courtroom trial is a terrifying experience for any individual accused of a serious crime. Guilt or innocence aside, their fate becomes contingent on case evidence presented to a judge and jury. Determining guilt or innocence beyond a shadow of a doubt relies heavily on forensics. This demands a scientific examination of the evidentiary facts surrounding a case using experts who are certified in their field. Subsequently, these authorities will appear in court to testify about their findings. Typically, this involves results obtained from DNA, fingerprint, ballistic, audio or visual test procedures. Doubt is unacceptable given the prospect of incarcerating a person for committing a crime or at worst, ending their life.
Bureau of Justice Statistics from the United States Department of Justice conceded that 8% to 12% of state prisoners are actually or factually innocent. If the error ratio of rightful convictions resides around ten percent nationally, 200,000 innocent people are currently imprisoned for crimes they did not commit and deserve judicial recourse. Injustice aside, the average annual maintenance cost per inmate is $ 35,000, fully funded by taxpayer dollars. “Do the math.”
Based on a study of 100 death sentences overturned by post-conviction evidence, out of the first 70 cases that were reversed:
- Over 30 of these involved prosecutorial misconduct.
- Over 30 of these involved police misconduct which led to wrongful convictions.
- Approximately 15 of these involved false witness testimony.
- 34% of the police misconduct cases involved suppression of exculpatory evidence. 11% involved evidence fabrication.
- 37% of the prosecutorial misconduct cases involved suppression of exculpatory evidence. 25% involved knowing use of false testimony. *(Report: 2011 update- The Innocence Project)
Public officials who are responsible for wrongful convictions have often knowingly restricted a citizen’s right to a fair trial, fabricated evidence which has led to a guilty verdict or engaged in severe prosecutorial misconduct. Many career prosecutors have aggressively pursued life sentences or death sentences for innocent individuals, brazenly accusing people of crimes while having full knowledge of the defendant’s likely innocence. Though many public officials remain impartial and have full respect and dignity for the rule of law, statistics show that judicial malfeasance and prosecutorial misconduct continue to be ongoing problems. Just one wrongful conviction in this nation is a blight upon the system that must be rectified at any cost. Innocent citizens who have had their rights and freedoms stolen deserve recourse against these malignant strains of injustice. We must put an end to the leniency, and blind eye turned to official misconduct to put an end to wrongful convictions.