U.S. News Programs Explore Systemic Wrongful Conviction Issues

Millions of Americans had their eyes opened to two important criminal justice issues—prosecutorial misconduct and wrongful conviction compensation—as national television news programs explored topics related to wrongful conviction last night, Sunday, March 25, 2012. Ohio Innocence Project Director Mark Godsey previously announced these programs on this blog. If you missed them, see the video link here to the 14-minute segment of CBS’s 60 MINUTES with Michael Morton, who spent 25 years in prison before DNA proved he didn’t murder his wife. The piece explores the case that has prompted a rare judicial inquiry into allegations of prosecutorial misconduct related to former Williamson County (TX) prosecutor Ken Anderson’s prosecution of Morton. Anderson is now a state district judge.

CNN explored the inadequate, nonexistent, or hurdle-ridden compensation our states unevenly provide for those who’ve spent years in prison for crimes not committed. See link here to the article and video for the program’s highlights.

It was an important night for the criminal justice system: Programing that expands awareness of systemic impediments to fairness and justice will open minds and hearts in this country. It is a frustratingly slow process, but dispelling myths that permeate citizens’ views of our criminal justice system, is essential. In the U.S. an educated citizenry can be a powerful force—through the ballot box and through a shift in conventional wisdom—that can support and even demand best practices in criminal justice.

For those committed to improving criminal justice, sharing links to enlightening programs like these is a start. And if your friends and colleagues can spare only two minutes and eighteen seconds on this important issue, pass along  a very quick tutorial—this powerful trailer for the documentary AFTER INNOCENCE.

2 responses to “U.S. News Programs Explore Systemic Wrongful Conviction Issues

  1. arkansastruthseeker

    Reblogged this on arkansastruthseeker.

  2. Given the US Supreme Court’s inexplicable blanket of “total immunity” from civil actions against DA’s for ANY act done while in office, there is now little to keep DA’s honest. And honesty in prosecutors was already a huge issue. Texas- not widely known for fairness in the justice system- has actually taken the lead in several important areas of forensics. After Todd Willingham was executed for the arson/murder of his 3 kids in ’94(?), it had already been shown that the Texas Fire Marshal and virtually all arson investigators in the state, were using debunked “science”. Had they used real science, Willingham probably would not have been convicted. The revised scientific standards were adopted by Texas, even though the state still went on with the execution. In the last Legislature session, state of the art rules for eye witness evidence were ordered to be written and disseminated. What was once considered the “gold standard” of evidence is now known to be the least reliable. The state also banned evidence based on the use of tracking dogs, which had been shown to be worthless. And the compensation for wrongful conviction was increased from $55,000/yr to $80,000/year of wrongful incarceration. All of this is largely due to the work of state Sen. Rodney Ellison of Houston with help from Sen. Whitmire and others.

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