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Innocent and In Prison

W. Scott Cole

Posted on July 2, 2019 01:25

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People are wrongly convicted in this country, not every year, but every day. The problem is more extensive than most people realize and far worse than prosecuting attorneys are willing to admit to.

In recent moves toward transparency and accountability in the court system, many prosecutors and judges are coming to realize that wrongful convictions are more common than they seem. Studies are beginning to show many innocent Americans have been wrongly imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. 

On average, more than three innocent people are released from jail every week. It’s starting to seem that the adage that it’s better for ten guilty men to go free than for one innocent man to go to prison doesn’t exist anymore… and may never have.

Part of the reason for the wrongful imprisonments is false positives in field drug test kits. Some over the counter drugs have ingredients that can show a positive result for illicit substances. Naturally, prosecutors prefer that this fact not be known so they can get a conviction. In Harris County Texas alone, there have been 317 such cases in the last five years.

According to the National Registry for Exonerations, more than half of all wrongful convictions involve perjury or false accusations, which are especially prevalent in cases concerning murder and child sex abuse. In addition, witness identification is a big issue in sexual assault cases. For some defendants accused of these crimes, “innocent until proven guilty” does not exist.

Furthermore, the National Registry data shows that innocent people spend an average of 8.8 years behind bars, and that 6% of those exonerated had been on death row. One-third were sentenced to a minimum of 50 years and there were 19 who were exonerated after they died. Believe it or not, only 22% of exonerations involve DNA evidence.

Far too many innocent people are on death row, considering what the government has in store for those inmates. In 2014, it was estimated that 4.1% of death row inmates were innocent, yet only 2.8% manage to prove they did not commit the crime they were convicted of, and that was usually after spending decades in prison.

Research conducted by the National Academy of Sciences shows that over the years, 138 innocent people have been released from death row. That begs the question, “How many innocent people have been murdered by the government?” Make no mistake, it is murder. The death certificates of every executed inmate in the U.S. lists murder as the cause of death. How many more innocent people have to die before capital punishment is finally ended in this country?

Yes, mistakes do happen, but there are far too many mistakes in our prison system to be considered acceptable. The factors which bring about wrongful convictions could easily be remedied to save innocent lives. Why aren’t we more interested in fixing these problems?

W. Scott Cole

Posted on July 2, 2019 01:25

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Source: Mother Jones
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Call it the Serial effect. According to a new report from the University of Michigan Law School's National Registry of...

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