Today’s blog post continues its scrutiny of matter introduced in a recent entry.
Namely, that is the troubling issue of wrongful criminal convictions that occur with distressing frequency across the country. We noted that scourge in our September 21 blog offering, spotlighting what commentators nationally stress is “clearly a problem of huge dimensions.”
Here’s that problem, pure and simple: Research conducted in a vast study produced by the National Registry of Exonerations (NRE) points straight to official misconduct as a primary agent in convicting innocent individuals of crimes.
A study centrally relevant to false convictions
An initial point to note concerning the recently released NRE report is it breadth and depth. The research spans 185 pages, examining key data relevant to 2,400 cases where confessions were falsely extracted and individuals wrongly incarcerated. Researchers examined the role that official misconduct played in those cases, with their focus aimed especially on these specific categories:
- Prosecutorial and witness misconduct at trial
- Evidence fabrication
- Concealment of evidence favorable to a defendant
- Overstepping legal lines during interrogation
- Witness tampering
Scrutiny into all those areas led to troubling conclusions. Study principals say that some element of misconduct featured in well more than half of examined confessions. Police misconduct played a key role in more than one-third of all cases.
Notably, prosecutors’ misconduct was also prevalent. Moreover, many cases involved overlapping acts of official wrongdoing across several spheres.
Such misconduct – both purposeful and unintentional – obviously raises a threshold question asked in a CNN piece chronicling the study. The national news outlet queries “why this type of misconduct might occur in the first place?”
The answer is reportedly nuanced and complex. The study ultimately underscores “systemic” issues linked with customary bad behavior, inadequate resources and faulty leadership exercised by both prosecutors and police commanders.