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NCJ Number: 113804 Find in a Library
Title: Convicted but Innocent: Wrongful Conviction and the Criminal Justice System
Journal: Law and Human Behavior  Volume:12  Issue:3  Dated:(September 1988)  Pages:283-293
Author(s): A Rattner
Date Published: 1988
Page Count: 11
Type: Historical Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper reviews the literature on wrongful convictions in the United States and describes these cases according to distribution of offenses, of sentences, of actual punishment inflicted, and types of error contributing to the wrongful conviction.
Abstract: This study defined wrongful conviction as only those cases in which a person was convicted of a felony, but later exonerated, generally due to evidence previously not available or confession from the culprit. The data consisted of 205 legal cases from 1900 on gathered from books, documents, and newspaper clippings. Nearly 45 percent of these wrongful convictions were for murder, 30.5 percent for robbery, and 12.1 percent for forcible rape. The most frequent kind of error was eyewitness misidentification, accounting for more than 52 percent of all cases. Other major factors were perjury by witnesses, negligence by criminal justice officials, pure error, and coerced confessions. A single reason pervading many wrongful convictions was police and prosecutorial overzealousness. The authors argue that the higher the level in the system the case reaches, the less chance that an error will be discovered and corrected unless it involves issues of constitutional rights and due process. Tables and 16 references. (Author abstract modified)
Main Term(s): Wrongful incarceration
Index Term(s): Eyewitness testimony; Innocent victims
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