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NCJ Number: 222533 Find in a Library
Title: Officials' Estimates of the Incidence of "Actual Innocence" Convictions
Journal: Justice Quarterly  Volume:25  Issue:1  Dated:March 2008  Pages:72-100
Author(s): Marvin Zalman; Brad Smith; Angie Kiger
Date Published: March 2008
Page Count: 29
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article reports on a survey of Michigan criminal justice officials that asked them to estimate the incidence of wrongful convictions in their jurisdictions as well as the United States as a whole.
Abstract: Respondents as a total group estimated that wrongful convictions in their own jurisdictions occurred at a rate of less than 0.5 percent and at a rate of 1-3 percent in the Nation as a whole. As a distinct professional group, defense attorneys estimated higher rates of wrongful convictions than judges, prosecutors, and police officials, respectively. The different estimates by professional group may be explained by the stake that each profession has in attempting to gain or prevent convictions. Taking the lower estimate of 0.5 percent of wrongful convictions for Michigan jurisdictions and extrapolating it to the Nation as a whole yields approximately 5,000 wrongful felony convictions each year and the imprisonment of approximately 2,000 innocent persons annually. The survey involved three waves of mailings sent between August 2005 and January 2006. It was mailed to all sheriffs, a random sample of police chiefs, all trial and appellate judges, and all chief prosecutors in Michigan. In order to reach defense attorneys, questionnaires were sent to the State Appellate Defender's Office and members of the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan, which is a voluntary membership organization of practicing defense lawyers. Out of 853 questionnaires mailed, responses were received from 467, producing an overall response rate of 54.7 percent. The findings are compared with a recent similar Ohio survey. 5 tables, 86 references and appendix
Main Term(s): Court personnel attitudes; Michigan; Wrongful conviction
Index Term(s): Defense counsel; Judges; Police chiefs; Prosecutors
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