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Causes of Wrongful Convicitons

False Confession Capitol

The Chicago Police Department is under investigation by the Federal Justice Department for coercing teenagers to confess to crimes they didn't commit. According to Peter Neufeld, the co-founder of the Innocence Project this happens all the time in Chicago.He says, "Quite simply, what Cooperstown is to baseball, Chicago is to false confessions. It is the Hall of Fame." He continues, "There are more juvenile confessions in Chicago than anyplace else in the United States...It's not because the kids are different...it's because of the way the police keep pounding and pounding and pounding away in those interrogation rooms."

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Tactics Police Use That Would Shock You

For those of you who have never had dealings with law enforcement, AlterNet has a very interesting list of 10 legal tactics the police use that most of us would be shocked about. Between the war on drugs and the war on terror the rights we thought we had as US citizens have been eroded. 

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Prosecutors Not Held Accountable (2)

On May 6th, 20120 Barry Scheck of The Innocence Project wrote a letter to the American Statesman, an Austin Texas newspaper regarding prosecutorial misconduct. Groups affiliated with   Innocence Projects studied cases in Texas from 2004-2008 and found prosecutorial misconduct in 91 cases but only 1 case between 2004-2011 where a prosecutor was disciplined for prosecutorial misconduct.

Click here to read Barry Scheck's letter to the American Statesman.

Can Legal Reform Happen?

Can we reform our legal system when politicians refuse to discuss the real issues. The only time politicians, judges or DA's seem to mention our legal system is when they talk about putting more people behind bars or "being tough on crime". Even though for the past 20 years crime has consistently dropped, we don't typically look at past laws to see how they are working instead we are giving incentives to police departments to become more militarized. This has lead the U.S.A. to have a higher percentage of it's population behind bars than any other any other country in the world, that is not just for western countries but for all countries.

To read more about this issue click here.

Control of Prisons Going to Private Companies (2)

A proposed contract in Virginia between the state and the nation's second-largest private prison operator, GEO Group and a company managing mental health institutes, Liberty Healthcare Corp., would give these private companies authority over convicted sex offenders enrolled in a controversial program known as "civil commitment". The state designates some inmates as sexually violent predators, that label gives the state the right to hold inmates indefinitely while administering mental health treatment. Virginia has advanced deliberations on this contract without official public input or legislative hearings even though both GEO Group and Liberty Healthcare Corp. have had incidents managing a similar facility in Florida. It should be noted according to state records that GEO Group was one of the largest single contributors to Republican Bob McDonnell. The GEO Group has also made smaller contributions to Virginia legislative leaders. In the past two years, a subsidiary, GEO Care has spent more than $13,000 on lobbying related to the sex offender facility. The intriguing part about the contract is the fact that these institutes will be able to profit by being the agencies that determin whether these inmates have been reformed or not. In other words they will be able to decide to keep people incarcerated indefinitely to keep the prison full.

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Who's Buying Our Courts?

In the 39 states where judicial elections are held, judges running for re-election have spent 4 times the amount of television ads than was spent just two years ago. Hundreds of cases going back decades show that the more businesses donate to judicial campaigns the more the rulings favor businesses.

Click here to read the full story and view the charts.

Are Private Prisons Cost Effective?

Three convicted murderers escaped from a private medium-security prison in Kingman, Arizona. As a cost saving measure Arizona has given up control of most of its prisons to private companies. Private companies like Management Training Corp. and Correction Corporation of America claim they can save governments money by housing their prisoners, but a 2007 audit by the firm MAXIMUS found that private prisons only saved the state $5.49 per inmate per day. An internal report done by the Arizona Department of Corrections found the savings to be just $2.75 per inmate per day with some private prisons actually costing more than government run prisons. When you factor in that private companies pay lower wages and fewer or no benefits, the small amount of savings don't make sense. Paying private companies actually hurts communities because tax money is now going out of state as corporate profits instead of as wages to city, county or state employees.

Citizens in Arizona are questioning what the true costs are when using private companies to house prisoners. The dollar savings doesn't add up to what they were told and now they are wondering how secure these private facilities are.

Click here to read the full story in CNN Money.