Sloppy Police Work Is the Primary Reason for Wrongful ConvictionsSloppy
police work does contribute to wrongful convictions, but it is not the primary reason. Though their job is to conduct interviews, arrest individuals, and report/testify in court, they are not the only ones involved in working to convict an individual. “…false or mistaken eyewitness identification; unethical or overzealous practices among criminal justice actors, including prosecutors and the police; illegally obtained and/or false confessions; use of unreliable informants, especially “jailhouse snitches”; inadequate assistance of counsel; forensic errors and/or malfeasance (see National Research Council, 2009); and an uber-focus on legal versus factual guilt.” (Hemmens, C. et. al., 2019). I do not think you can narrow it down to only one primary source to blame for wrongful convictions, but instead look at it as the criminal justice system as a whole. The greatest reform needed in my opinion, is the accuracy of evidence testing. There are many cases involving victims wrongfully identifying individuals, maybe in hopes of finding closure within themselves? Or just the simple fact that when someone experiences such traumatic events, they try to rationalize what happened to them. In this instance I would like to reference the case of A.B. Butler who was convicted of aggravated kidnapping (rape being the aggravation) and sentenced to 99 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. The victim “identified” him by a book of mugshots, at a line up, and again at trial. “Butler presented alibi witnesses who claimed that he was elsewhere with them during the time that the crime occurred. Nevertheless, Butler was convicted of aggravated kidnapping and sentenced to ninety-nine years in prison.” (Innocence Project n.d.). After his appeals were denied testing the evidence from the crime, he luckily was able to get help from an organization fighting wrongful convictions, and after 17 years into his sentencing he was proven innocent and released when DNA evidence concluded he was not the perpetrator. If the DNA had been tested sooner, Butler may never have had to serve any prison time for this crime and the person who was responsible would not have been free to commit further assaults.
Hemmens, C., Brody, D. C., & Spohn, C. (2019). Criminal Courts: A Contemporary Perspective (4th ed.). SAGE Publications, Inc. (US). https://mbsdirect.vitalsource.com/books/9781544338934Innocence Project. (n.d.). A.B. Butler. Time Served: 17 years. Retrieved February 23, 2023. A.B. Butler – Innocence Project
In your response to your peers, consider how well they justified their position, making use of available resources.
Consider the following questions in your response posts:
- Did they support their position convincingly using appropriate resources?
- Which of their points make the most sense to you, even if you made your case for the opposing viewpoint?