In the past few years, a record number of people nationally and in the state of California have relied on new technology and DNA testing to prove they did not commit crimes they were convicted of committing. There are times when an innocent individual has spent decades in jail or prison for something they did not do, but how common are these wrongful convictions?
It is almost impossible to know how many people have been wrongfully convicted, but according to The National Registry of Exonerations, in 2017 alone, 139 people were exonerated for crimes they did not commit. These cases provide a road map to law enforcement officials of where the cracks exist within the criminal justice system and how they need to be fixed. While DNA proves innocence without a doubt, many cases had more than one contributing factor involved in the conviction.
There are many reasons that an individual may be wrongfully convicted, such as the following:
- Informants and snitches
- False confessions
- Improper or unvalidated forensics
- Eyewitness misidentification
While eyewitness testimony has traditionally been considered reliable, studies and reports have shown over the last few years that the mind is trickier than most realize. Because it is open to suggestion and prejudice, there are times where a witness may adjust their story or what they believe they saw without realizing it.
Being accused of committing a crime is difficult for any individual. When the odds are stacked against you, it is important that the criminal justice system works the way it should, and you are innocent until proven guilty. Because of the increase of exonerations throughout the country, many have new hope that the problems in the system will be identified before they face a judge or jury.
This is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.