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Causes of Wrongful Convicitons

Buying Judicial Elections

A new series of reports tracking spending trends in judicial elections since 2000, titled "The New Politics of Judicial Elections" shows an explosion of spending in the last 14 years.

Click here to read more in Mother Jones.

Black American Citizens Being Held At Interrogation Center

The Guardian reports that 3,500 people held at Homan Square, a police warehouse described by some of its arrestees as a secretive interrogation facility in Chicago, have been subsequently charged with everything from “drinking alcohol on the public way” to murder. But the scale of the detentions – and the racial disparity therein – raises the prospect of major civil-rights violations.

Click here to read the article in The Guardian.

Political Expediency Equals Unfairness

There are many things wrong with the American legal system, but the law giving a one year statute of limitations deadline to file habeas corpus appeals in the federal courts is definitely near the top of the list. People convicted of a crime who missed the filing deadline, through no fault of their own, by just one day have sacrificed strong claims. Some of these claims challenged what is know considered faulty analysis of evidence.

The Marshall Project has a very detailed article explaining how unfair the habeas corpus law is.

Click here to read the article.

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing

There are approximately 210,000 people incarcerated in federal prisons, a huge increase from 1980, when there were 24,000 people serving time. This increase is attributed to the War on Drugs and their mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines. Paul Cassell, a retired judge from Utah speaks about how unjust these guidelines are.

While talking to ABC News, Cassell talked about a young man who was being charged with a drug offense, "The system forced me to do it. If he had been an aircraft hijacker, he would have gotten 24 years in prison. If he’d been a terrorist, he would have gotten 20 years in prison. If he was a child rapist, he would have gotten 11 years in prison. And now I’m supposed to give him a 55-year sentence? I mean, that’s just not right,” he told ABC News.

Click here to read more.

 

Electing Judges At the State Level

Federal judges are appointed by the president and approved by congress, but states pick their judges in different ways. Some states chose their judges with partisan elections, some  have nonpartisan elections, others use legal experts to select a short list of qualified candidates, which the governor then choses one candidate and appoints them to the bench. (That judge later is voted on in a retention election.) Some of these methods bring in big campaign money which in some cases tarnish the legal system.

Click here to read more on buying judges in Mother Jones. 

Flashbang Policing

ProPublica shows how terrifying it is to experience the militarization of policing first hand. Without many details of crimes being committed, the police are launching grenades and storming private residences with guns drawn. These military style assaults are becoming more and more common with terrible results.

Click here to read the complete story.

Bail Industry Discriminatory Against The Poor

Two-thirds of the 750,000 people in America's jails are because they are awaiting trials. Almost 90% of these accused felons are held until trial because they can't afford bail; which is why the American Bar Association, the National Association of Counties, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National District Attorneys Association, and others have condemned commercial bail as discriminatory.

Click here to read an in-depth look into the bail industry.