There are few things as devastating to society and inpiduals than government that allows the wrongful convictions of an innocent person.
Since the advent of DNA testing in the 1990s, Innocence Project researchers report 73 percent of the 239 overturned convictions based on DNA testing were wrongfully convicted based on eyewitness testimony. One third of these overturned cases involved the testimony of two or more mistaken eyewitnesses.
Eyewitnesses are adamant about what they believe they remember without an awareness of how the subconscious processes information. The mind is highly suggestible. It's easy to confuse a suggestion or direct questions with the facts. Those who do come forward to admit their mistakes or doubts may be pressured not to.The system defends wrong decisions.The state of Illinois wrongfully convicted Juan Rivera, 39, three times for the 1992 stabbing death of 11-year-old babysitter, Holly Staker. He was sentenced to life prison. After spending almost 20 years incarcerated, on Dec. 9, 2011, the Illinois Appellate Court ruled the conviction was "unjustified and cannot stand."
Why Science Tells Us Not to Rely on Eyewitness Accounts--Eyewitness testimony is fickle and often inaccurate. In 1984 Kirk Bloodsworth was convicted of the rape and murder of a nine-year-old girl and sentenced to the gas chamber. After nine years in prison, DNA testing proved him innocent. Mistakes by eyewitnesses are common.
The Night Birds -- The West Memphis 3 Case
Prosecutors in 2,341 jurisdictions have stretched, bent or broken rules to win convictions. Since 1970, judges and appellate panels cited prosecutorial misconduct when dismissing charges, reversing convictions or reducing sentences in over 2,000 cases. In another 500 cases, they found the misconduct warranted a reversal. In thousands more, judges labeled prosecutorial behavior inappropriate, but upheld convictions using a doctrine called "harmless error."
How credible are child witnesses? Child Witness Cases
Justice: Denied -- The Magazine for the Wrongly Convicted.
Free Battered Women (FBW), is a grassroots coalition of currently and formerly incarcerated women, their families, activists, attorneys, students, community members, and other dedicated inpiduals who strive to end the re-victimization of battered women in prison.
Many agencies exist to investigate crimes and prosecute criminals, but no entity exists to investigate the injustice of wrongful conviction. Authorities in the criminal justice system make no effort to collect, organize and review their mistakes.
Why Would Anyone Make a False Confessions? In more than 25% of DNA exoneration cases, innocent defendants made incriminating statements, delivered outright confessions or pled guilty. These cases show that confessions are not always prompted by internal knowledge or actual guilt, but are sometimes motivated by external influences. Why do innocent people confess?
Miscarriages of justice Scotland
Survival Guide For The Falsely Accused -- Provides resource information to adults unjustly accused of child abuse, child neglect, sexual child abuse, "repressed" memories, sexual harassment, or domestic violence (spousal abuse).
The courts’ reliance on witnesses built is kept in limited check by cross-examination—an important adversarial legal process—used to appeal to the jurors common sense. Witnesses testimony are often considered the most important personal testimony given. Recent studies illustrate that this weight must be balanced by the awareness that a witness may be honest, not coaxed by prosecutorial error by anyone else but simply by being human the results of distorted memory and inaccurate testimony are easily possible and common.
The Case For Innocence -- Examines why inmates remain in prison despite DNA evidence that exonerates them.
Local prosecutors in 2,341 jurisdictions have stretched, bent or broken rules to win convictions. Since 1970, judges and appellate panels cited prosecutorial misconduct when dismissing charges, reversing convictions or reducing sentences in over 2,000 cases. In another 500 cases, they found the misconduct warranted a reversal. In thousands more, judges labeled prosecutorial behavior inappropriate, but upheld convictions using a doctrine called "harmless error."
In Paris, Illinois, 1986, Karen Spesard, 24, a factory office assistant, married Dyke Rhoads, a landscaper. The couple were found dead after fire engulfed their home. They couple stabbed over 50 times prior to the fire. Herb Whitlock, 41, a part-time construction worker and drug dealer, and Randy Steidl, 35, a construction worker, were convicted. Both men claimed innocence. The Prosecutors say the motive was a drug deal gone bad. In 1999, a Northwestern University journalism professor, David Protess, gave his students the case as a class project to re-investigate.
On Friday February 25 1983, Jeanine Nicarico, 10, was abducted from her Illinois home in unincorporated Naperville, brutally raped and slain. Investigators narrowed in on Alex Hernandez, Stephen Buckley and Rolando Cruz because Cruz and Hernandez told lies about their murder which led to a grand jury indictment of the three men. The case was built on unreliable statements with no physical evidence against the defendants. After it was apparent the case was going to trial, the Du Page County Sheriff's early lead Detective resigned in in disgust.
Who did kill Wendy Sewell? The former newspaper editor who campaigned for the release of Stephen Downing after he was wrongly jailed for 27 years for the murder of Wendy Sewell, says he has "a very good idea" who the real killer was. In Denial of Murder -- Over 30 years Wendy Sewell, typist was was savagely attacked in a graveyard. She died in a hospital several days later.
Wrongfully convicted of murder they spent years on death row. DNA evidence freed Ray Krone after 10 years, four of them on Arizona's death row. Despite no physical evidence, Gary Gauger, was sentenced to death. Ronald Keine, was 10 days away from the New Mexico death chamber until another man's confession got him a new trial. Also see the Death Penalty page.
Gloria Killian was on her way to becoming a lawyer when she ended up behind bars for masterminding a robbery-homicide.
Is Clarence Elkins guilty or murder? -- In June 1998, Judith Johnson, 58, was found beaten, strangled and sexually assaulted in her home outside Akron, Ohio. Her 6-year-old granddaughter was also assaulted, and became the prosecution's star witness. She said that the man who had killed her grandmother was her uncle, Clarence Elkins. Today, he is serving a life sentence in prison.
The Killer's Trail, in which a team of experts investigates the forensic evidence in the 1954 murder of Marylin Sheppard. Dr. Sam Sheppard was convicted of his wife's murder in 1954. 45 years later Sam Reese Sheppard is fighting to clear his father's name and collect a $2 million wrongful arrest award. His case was bolstered by DNA tests.
Mockery of Justice: The True Story of the Sheppard Murder Case -- by Cynthia L. Cooper, Sam Reese Sheppard -- In 1996, Sam Reese Sheppard spoke on All Things Considered: "My mother and dad were very flamboyant people.... They were out of step ... in the Bible Belt of Ohio at that time, but, very quickly, and it happens today, a high-profile case spins out of control, and hatred and hysteria rise in the community. When a pregnant woman dies in an ugly way in our community, people are stricken with fear ... the blame on my dad got pinpointed by the newspapers." Dr. Sheppard was convicted of the 1954 murder of his wife. In 1966 the US Supreme Court ruled that he'd been denied a fair trial. He was retried, found innocent, then died a few years later. Mockery of Justice goes into Dr. Sheppard's own account of that night, the role of a powerful coroner, the media frenzy, the mysteries surrounding the case records, and the recent investigation of a likely suspect. The book includes map, timeline, footnotes, and index.
A case of injustice where two men with the same name are implicated in the same crime and one - Terence Garner - is sentenced to 32 - 43 years in a North Carolina prison.
The US justice system's racial bias and abuse of power behind the arrest and trial of a youth accused of murder. Courtroom footage from Brenton Butler's murder trial in 2000, with interviews of Butler's public defenders as they prepare their case of mistaken identity.
Jerry Frank Townsend walked free after 22 years in prison for murders he did not commit. Sentenced to life in Northwest Fort Lauderdale from the 1970s, Townsend won exoneration after DNA testing cleared him in 3 murders.
In December 2000, after 14 years on Florida's death row, Frank Lee Smith was cleared of the rape and murder of Shandra Whitehead, 8, as a result of DNA testing. Smith died of cancer in prison, steps away from Florida's electric chair.
Kirk Bloodsworth is one of a small but disturbing number of innocent people released from death row after being wrongfully accused, wrongfully convicted and wrongfully sentenced to die.
Death Penalty Controversy -- April 1993, Gary Gauger was living on his parents' farm, working in his father's motorcycle shop. He found his father in the shop, lying in a pool of blood. Gary called the paramedics, police found his mother's body in a nearby trailer. Gary became a suspect in a double homicide.
Texas justice - 1988 What made timid honors student Christopher Ochoa confess to the rape and murder Nancy DePriest, 20, the mother of a 15-month-old baby girl that he did not commit? Salon.com
The 1992 death of Roger de la Burde at Windsor, his 220-acre horse farm on the James River outside Richmond, had all the markings of suicide. His body lay on a blood-spattered sofa in the library, a single bullet hole in his forehead. His fingers were stained with powder residue, and his .38 Special lay near his side.
"McMartin" was one of the first Multi-Victim Multi-Offender (MVMO) child abuse cases. At 6 years duration, it was the longest US criminal trial in history. At a cost to the state of $15 million, it was the most expensive. No convictions were obtained. It has become the most famous case of its type.
Akron, Ohio -- Paul 31, and Karen Stanley, 34 dated 12 years before marrying in October 1998. 13-month-old Bo Michael was conceived about the same time. Paul was asleep in bed and Karen was asleep on the couch when Paul was awakened by a crackling noise from the baby monitor.
Susan Nelles, RN, Toronto's Sick Children's Hospital, was accused of murdering 4 babies in 1981. The charges were dropped, but Nelles' spent 4 years seeking vindication and sued the Ontario Crown Attorney's Office for "malicious prosecution." Her father died without living to see her vindicated.
Copyright Kari Sable 1994-2011