This (in my opinion) is huge. By now, you’re probably familiar with the National Registry of Exonerations which has established a mechanism for collecting and documenting data about wrongful convictions across the US. To date, it has logged data on 1,250 exonerations. The registry will be a very powerful tool for justice system reform and improvement, because it provides incontrovertible, hard data that can be used to make known and describe the errors that can, and do, happen in this very imperfect system of ours.
Data from the National Registry of Exonerations has already revealed that “official misconduct” (by both police and prosecutors) is a contributing factor in 42% of wrongful convictions. In a previous WCB post, Prosecutorial Misconduct – What’s to be Done? A Call to Action, it was pointed out that one of the very first things needed to begin addressing the prosecutorial misconduct cause of wrongful convictions is DATA. We know that prosecutorial misconduct happens, but our understanding of the problem, and its extent, has been only anecdotal up until now. This new Registry of Prosecutorial Misconduct is a significant step forward in building a base of data that can be used by legislators, policy makers, and advocates in defining and implementing necessary changes to the laws and rules that govern prosecutorial behavior.
The press release from the Center for Prosecutor Integrity follows:
Contact: Teri Stoddard, Email: email@example.com
CPI to Establish Registry of Prosecutorial Misconduct
WASHINGTON / November 20, 2013 – The Center for Prosecutor Integrity has recently received a grant to establish a Registry of Prosecutorial Misconduct. The Registry will eventually catalog thousands of cases of prosecutorial misconduct around the country. This information will allow policymakers to pinpoint priorities for reform.
The Registry will report the prosecutor’s jurisdiction, type of crime, type of misconduct, whether the case was referred to an ethics oversight body, whether sanctions were imposed, and other information.
Determinations of misconduct will be based on holdings of trial courts, appellate courts, state supreme courts, and legal disciplinary committees.
Registry cases will be identified by means of legal database searches, media reports, and other sources. Interested parties are welcome to submit cases for consideration:firstname.lastname@example.org .
The Registry is intended for use by researchers, lawmakers, ethical oversight boards, and other stakeholders in the criminal justice system. The Registry’s database will be accessible through an online user interface.
“Over the last decade, the American public has become disburbed about prosecutors who ignore ethical standards in a head-long rush to convict,” notes CPI spokesperson Sheryl Hutter. “Now, advocates of reform will be able to identify patterns, assess trends, and compare jurisdictions.”
According to the National Registry of Exonerations, 42% of wrongful convictions arise from misconduct by prosecutors and other government officials.
The Center for Prosecutor Integrity is working to preserve the presumption of innocence, assure equal treatment under law, and bring an end to wrongful convictions through the enhancement of prosecutorial ethics: www.prosecutorintegrity.org