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Causes of Wrongful Convicitons

Private Prisons Are Big Businesses

A private company, Corrections Corporation of America, sent letters to 48 states offering to buy each state's prisons. This supposedly would save the states money in these depressed times. The states would need to guarantee the prisons will remain 90% full for the next 20 years and give full management control to the firm. This is the same company that has seen its business grow due to the "war on drugs" and immigrant detention. As Prudential Securities noted, "It takes time to bring inmate population levels up to where they cover costs. Low occupancy is a drag on profits... company earnings would be strong if CCA succeeded in ramp(ing) up population levels in its new facilities at an acceptable rate" Prison populations should not be determined so private businesses can earn big profits.

Read the full story here.

Charge Stacking: Gambling with People's Lives

There is a relatively new phrase in our legal system that is still heard all too rarely, but it should be a prime fear of all defendants who enter to the mercy of the courts. The phrase is “charge stacking”. These simple words are creating catastrophic effects in our court rooms. It is this phrase, or this practice of stacking which has enabled a 20 year old first time offender to receive 1,941 months (162 years) in prison without the possibility of parole, reported by Reuters – Tue, Jul 3, 2012.

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FBI Lied In Over 95% of Hair Analysis Cases

The FBI has admitted that 26 of 28 hair analysts have lied under oath while testifying during criminal cases. So far this is true for 95% of the cases that have been reviewed, which is completely opposite of what shows like CSI and NCIS lead viewers to believe. 

Click here to read the story in The Washington Post.

The Veritas Initiative Report on Prosecutorial Misconduct

The Veritas Initiative, a project of the Northern California Innocence Project, has performed the most extensive research on prosecutorial misconduct. Their research of over 4,000 public prosecutors in California, from 1997-2009, showed the justice system if full of extensive and systemic failures.

Click here to receive their report titled Preventable Error: A report on Prosecutorial Misconduct in California 1997-2009.

Lost DNA Evidence

The Innocence Project has come across an issue of missing DNA evidence when trying to help those that are wrongfully incarcerated. In 30-40% of cases that initially had DNA evidence, the evidence is destroyed after the trial. This has led the Innocence Project to work to change the system to preserve DNA evidence,

 

Click here to read the article or watch the video.

Judge Says Legal System Is Corrupt

In 2003, Judge Edith Jones of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit gave a speech at the Federalist Society of Harvard Law School in which she states her opinions as to why the court system is corrupt. Here is one of her quotes about prosecutors, "An increasingly visible and vocal number apparently believe that the strategic use of anger and incivility will achieve their aims. Others seem uninhibited about making misstatements to the court or their opponents or destroying or falsifying evidence," she claimed. "When lawyers cannot be trusted to observe the fair processes essential to maintaining the rule of law, how can we expect the public to respect the process?" Unfortunately, in the nine years since Judge Jones gave her speech, the issue of prosecutorial misconduct hasn’t gotten any better.

Click here to read more from this insightful appellate judge.

 

 

Crime Lab Creates Chaos

Chemist Annie Dookhan is accused of tampering with with drug and blood samples to make them weigh more or test positive. Details are still emerging about the mishandled evidence in as many as 40,000 cases over 10 years. According to Max Stern, "There's many people who for years have not been able to get jobs, not [been] be able to get driver's licenses, not [been] able to live in particular housing." He also states, "There are enormous consequences nowadays to drug convictions." Defense attorney John Martin says, "Any person who's been convicted of a drug crime in the last several years whose drugs were tested at the lab was very potentially a victim of a very substantial miscarriage of justice."

Click here to read the full story.