Official misconduct contributed to the false legal convictions of greater than half of harmless individuals who have been later exonerated—54 p.c—based on a report launched Tuesday by the Nationwide Registry of Exonerations.
The actions by law enforcement officials included witness tampering, violent interrogations, and falsifying proof.
“As calls to reimagine the nation’s legal justice system develop, these new knowledge underscore the necessity for extra self-discipline and professionalism by police and prosecutors,” mentioned an announcement from the Nationwide Registry.
Researchers studied 2,400 convictions of defendants who have been later discovered harmless over a 30-year interval. It’s the solely such examine primarily based on a complete database of circumstances of wrongly convicted defendants.
Misconduct that results in wrongful convictions hardly ever come to mild and don’t often result in mass protests and a racial reckoning, though they contain the identical reliance on secrecy and deception, based on Samuel Gross, a College of Michigan regulation professor and one of many authors of the examine, said USA Today.
Researchers discovered that misconduct by police and prosecutors is among the many main causes of disproportionate false convictions of Black defendants.
Prosecutors and law enforcement officials dedicated misconduct at comparable charges: prosecutors in 30 p.c of exonerations, police in 34 p.c, mentioned the Nationwide Registry.
Nonetheless, in federal circumstances, the examine discovered that misconduct by prosecutors was two-and-a-half instances as frequent as misconduct by police—particularly amongst federal white-collar crime exonerations, the place it’s greater than seven instances as frequent.
“Official misconduct damages truth-seeking by our legal justice system and undermines public confidence. It steals years—typically many years—from the lives of harmless folks. The good majority of wrongful convictions are by no means found, so the scope of the issue is far higher than these numbers present,” mentioned Professor Gross, who’s Senior Editor of the Nationwide Registry of Exonerations.
The report, “Authorities Misconduct and Convicting the Harmless: the Position of Prosecutors, Police and Different Legislation Enforcement,” will be learn here.