Last updated: August 23, 2019
Topic: FamilyChildren
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The United States has approximately two million people incarcerated and twenty thousand of them have been, wrongly convicted of a crime. In 2016 roughly one hundred sixty-six people suffered in a prison cell due to false accusations, bad forensic science, eyewitness misidentification, official misconduct, and false confessions. Many peoples lives have been ruined due to false convictions. The rate of wrongful convictions continues to increase each year and people who are released is down to two each year. Eyewitness Misidentification    In America, thirty-three percent of wrongful convictions are due to eyewitness misidentifications. Marvin Anderson is a victim of wrongful conviction due to an eyewitness misidentification. In Anderson’s case, he was convicted of two counts of rape, forcible sodomy,  abduction, and robbery. The victim, in this case, told police officers that the man who had raped her was, “A black male and he had relations with a white woman”. An officer automatically pulled Anderson in as a suspect. The victim was so traumatized and distraught that she picked Anderson’s photo and identified him as the man who raped her. Anderson served twenty years out of the two hundred and ten years that he was supposed to serve in jail due to the misidentification.In most cases, eyewitnesses identifying a suspect can be completely altered due to emotions and anxiety built up. A case study made by many psychologists says that many eyewitnesses struggle with disorders such as antisocial personality disorder and substance dependence. These disorders alter what the eyewitness may have believed they saw to what really happened. People have the idea that the brain “records” memories and it’s very easy to recall events. Psychology, on the other hand, says that eyewitnesses statements come from more of a “reconstructed” memory. A reconstructed memory is parts of an event tied together recreating an altered story.        Eyewitness misidentifications have put seventy-five percent of the two hundred falsely accused in prison in the United States alone. Misidentifications can vary from choosing someone based on race or simply the lighting is different from a photo and during a lineup. Some jurors may believe that eyewitnesses testimonies are accurate due to the witnesses confidence level, but chances are that the eyewitness with a higher confidence level may make the story more exagerent then it really was. Eyewitness misidentification counts as one of many reasons innocent people are in jail and it’s becoming more common as the years continue. Official Misconduct    By definition, official misconduct is the improper and/or illegal acts by a public official which violates his/her duty to follow the law and act on behalf of the public good. Forty-seven percent of all falsely imprisoned people have been sent to jail because of official misconduct. A teenager from New York City named Devon Ayers is a victim of official misconduct. In Ayers’ case, he served seventeen years in prison because the prosecution and police did not follow standard procedures. In all cases, all evidence and witnesses are to be presented in court. Ayers case had two eyewitnesses who were drug addicts and were given details regarding the crime scene. His case also lacked a security video that proves that he is innocent. The prosecution failed to present the evidence in court and prosecutorial misconduct includes withholding exculpatory evidence from the defense, destroying evidence, and allowing unreliable witnesses or fraudulent experts to testify. These infractions made it impossible for jurors to determine his innocence and Devon suffered due to the injustice in this case.    In some cases where official misconduct takes place, it’s an honest mistake. However, far too many other cases the people who are responsible for ensuring the truth lose sight of the obligations and focus more on just making sure the suspect is convicted. Many people in authority are trustworthy but wrongful convictions continue to increase and the reason being is that authorities rush the process of getting real evidence because of their “gut instinct”. Prosecutors make mistakes in cases such as employing suggestions when conducting identification procedures and coercing false confessions. Law officials also make mistakes and their mistakes can lead to an innocent man and/or woman being sent to prison for crimes they did not commit.Bad Forensic Science    Bad forensic science is responsible for twenty-two percent of wrongful convictions. Forensic science is the application of scientific principles and techniques to matters of criminal justice especially as relating to the collection, examination, and analysis of physical evidence. James Kluppelberg from Chicago is a prime example of how bad forensic science can affect someone’s life. In James’ case, he was sent to jail because he was accused of setting a fire that killed a mother and her five children. The captain of the fire department took part in the forensics and the outcome was unusual. The captain did not submit a report and did not take notes of the incident. However, during James’ trial, the captain testified with the authorities that the burn patterns he noticed at the fire scene bore the markings of arson. The testimony did not correspond with the actions of the captain. It was unusual for James’ defense team but that was enough information to put James in jail. After a quarter-century, James’ lawyers were able to prove that the captain’s testimony had no scientific basis. In 2012 James was released after the forensics test was proved to be inaccurate.False Confessions    False confessions are not major but they do however take up thirteen percent of wrongful convictions. Damon Thibodeaux has been a victim of false confessions. In Damon’s case, he was accused of raping his fourteen-year-old cousin. During his interrogation, he continued to deny the accusations but detectives used methodical techniques on Damon. The detectives used the Reid technique, the Reid technique  “consists of a three-phase process beginning with fact analysis, followed by the behavior analysis interview (a non-accusatory interview designed to develop investigative and behavioral information), followed when appropriate by the Reid Nine Steps of Interrogation”. After being interviewed for nine hours Damon was exhausted and told detectives ” I didn’t know I had done it. But I had done it” with this false confession detectives had everything they needed to lock up Damon.     False confessions are commonly made due to persuasive technique and people feeling overwhelmed with anxiety and nervousness. If someone admits to committing a crime it makes the authorities jobs all the easier. With confessions from the mouth of the suspect, the courts and jurors will have no problem arresting an innocent person solely on the idea that the suspect “admitted” to the crime.False Accusations    In many cases false accusations are made, in fact, false accusations represent fifty-five percent of wrongful convictions. In certain cases when detectives get clues and tips from people regarding cases, they take them seriously. In the case of Kerry Porter, a person by the name of Greg Gully reported to detectives that he heard Porter admit to a homicide. For detectives, the information from Greg was enough to label Porter as a suspect. After trial the truth reached the surface, it was told that Greg lied under oath to get some time taken off of his sentence. After spending thirteen years in prison Porter was released from prison.    Although some information detectives may receive from anonymous people help solve a case, most of the time the information is false and is helping to imprison an innocent person. False accusations have helped send twenty thousand people to jail for a crime they did not commit. In conclusion, people lives have been ruined due to hearsay, mistaken identity, authorities not following procedures, manipulative detectives convincing “suspects”, and just simply not giving proper DNA results when it comes down to science. People who have been sent to jail for a crime he did not commit often struggle with the rehabilitation stage. After being incarcerated and having everything ripped away from you, getting back to a normal life can be challenging. Each year at least ten people with being sent to jail for a crime they did not commit. Wrongful convictions have become a problem in the United States and the rate of people who are released from prison due to wrongful convictions continue to decrease, but it will never stop being an important topic.