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Rev Robert Fuller

A Broken Court System

  • A Broken Court System

              Facts on Post-Conviction DNA Exoneration's

         There have been 252 post-conviction DNA exoneration's in the United States.

         The first DNA exoneration took place in 1989. Exoneration's have been won in 34 states since 2000, there have been 186 exoneration's. 

         17 of the 252 people exonerated through DNA served time on death row.

         The average length of time served by exonerees is 13 years. The total number of years served is approximately 3,276.

         The average age of exonerees at the time of their wrongful convictions was 27.

         The true suspects and/or perpetrators have been identified in 107 of the DNA exoneration cases.

          Since 1989, there have been tens of thousands of cases where prime suspects were identified and pursued—until DNA testing (prior to conviction) proved that they were wrongly accused.

           22 percent of cases closed by the Innocence Project since 2004 were closed because of lost or missing evidence.

          These DNA exoneration cases have provided irrefutable proof that wrongful convictions are not isolated or rare events, but arise from systemic defects that can be precisely identified and addressed. For more than 15 years, the Innocence Project has worked to pinpoint these trends.

           Eyewitness Misidentification was a factor in 74 percent of post-conviction DNA exoneration cases in the U.S., making it the leading cause of these wrongful convictions. At least 40 percent of these eyewitness identifications involved a cross racial identification (race data is currently only available on the victim, not for non-victim eyewitnesses). Studies have shown that people are less able to recognize faces of a different race than their own. These suggested reforms are embraced by leading criminal justice organizations and have been adopted in the states of New Jersey and North Carolina, large cities like Minneapolis and Seattle, and many smaller jurisdictions.

           Improper Forensic Science played a role in approximately 50 percent of wrongful convictions later overturned by DNA testing. While DNA testing was developed through extensive scientific research at top academic centers, many other forensic techniques – such as hair microscopy, bite mark comparisons, firearm tool mark analysis and shoe print comparisons – have never been subjected to rigorous scientific evaluation. Meanwhile, forensics techniques that have been properly validated – such as serology, commonly known as blood typing – are sometimes improperly conducted or inaccurately conveyed in trial testimony. In other wrongful conviction cases, forensic scientists have engaged in misconduct.

            False confessions and incriminating statements lead to wrongful convictions in approximately 25 percent of cases.  In 35 percent of false confession or admission cases, the defendant was 18 years old or younger and/or developmentally disabled. Nineteen of the first 250 DNA exonerees pled guilty to crimes they did not commit. The Innocence Project encourages police departments to electronically record all custodial interrogations in their entirety in order to prevent coercion and to provide an accurate record of the proceedings.

            Snitches contributed to wrongful convictions in 16 percent of cases. Whenever snitch testimony is used, the Innocence Project recommends that the judge instruct the jury that most snitch testimony is unreliable as it may be offered in return for deals, special treatment, or the dropping of charges. Prosecutors should also reveal any incentive the snitch might receive, and all communication between prosecutors and snitches should be recorded. Fifteen percent of wrongful convictions that were later overturned by DNA testing were caused in part by snitch testimony.

           I think the real thing that we as a country need to look at here is that there are more than 2.3 million people in this country in prison, the United States leads the world in number and percentage of residents incarcerated, far more than even China.  In 2008 there were more than

    7.3 million people in this country on probation,on parole, or in prison. 1 in every 31 adults with an additional 92,854 in juvenile facilities. 


    Number of inmates. 1920 to 2006.

               The other question that arises is the Innocent Project has handled but a few thousand of these cases, how many of these 7.3 million, that did not have the benefit of the Innocent Projects help, are not guilty? Now supporters of this justice system will say that only a small percentage of innocent are convicted, that its worth it to protect the public. I would say ask those who set on death row or lost an average of 13 years of their life if it was worth it, being they were wrongfully convicted, I think they would disagree.  

                                                                      Just an Old Preacher's Opinion

                                                                                   Rev Robert Fuller   

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