Author Archives: Carey Hoffman

International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and Innocence Organizations to Educate Criminal Justice Stakeholders on Psychological Factors that Contribute to Wrongful Convictions

New Video Series Supplements Trainings for Law Enforcement and Others Working in Criminal Justice

The International Association of Chiefs of Police is joining  the Innocence Project, the Ohio Innocence Project and other members of the Innocence Network to release a series of videos to educate law enforcement and criminal justice professionals about the psychological phenomena that can impede criminal investigations and prosecutions, and lead to wrongful convictions. The seven videos feature leading experts discussing how to recognize psychological factors, such as memory malleability and implicit bias, that affect investigations and prosecutions as well as highlighting some of the safeguards that can be employed to prevent wrongful convictions.  The videos are available at law.uc.edu/human-factors.html.

IACScreenshot_2018-11-19 Sherry Nakhaeizadeh FINAL_6a movP has been a leader in promoting reforms that reduce wrongful convictions, as far back as 2006 with the release of a key training on eyewitness identification, in 2010 and 2016 with the releases of model policies, in 2013 with the summit on wrongful convictions and in 2017 with the production of a roll call video series on eyewitness identification.

“Law enforcement officials are human and are susceptible to the same psychological phenomena that can adversely affect decision-making,” said Paul M. Cell, president of the IACP.  “We are excited to be partnering with innocence organizations to make these videos available because education and training are critical to ensuring that these phenomena don’t adversely affect investigations.”

The videos focus on human flaws that have been proven to contribute to wrongful conviction, and ere designed to complement trainings for stakeholders from all corners of the criminal justice community, from law enforcement to crime lab personnel to prosecutors and defense lawyers.

“While these videos were designed to be used in conjunction with more thorough trainings, we wanted to make them more broadly available online so they are accessible at all times to remind people working in criminal justice to be more aware of the psychological traps that can undermine even the most dedicated and diligent actors,” said Mark Godsey, director of the Rosenthal Institute for Justice/Ohio Innocence Project.Screenshot_2018-11-19 Jim Trainum FINAL_v6a mov(1)

Rebecca Brown, policy director of the Innocence Project which is affiliated with the Cardozo School of Law, added: “Presenting the psychological factors that contribute to human error in a neutral manner by experts with deep knowledge of the criminal justice system will hopefully encourage a dialogue among professionals, including police, prosecutors, forensic examiners, and defense lawyers, and encourage them to ask themselves and each other if any of these factors may be influencing their work.”

For online access to the videos and more information, visit law.uc.edu/human-factors.html.  Below is a short description of the seven videos:

Confirmation Bias – Dr. Sherry Nakhaeizadeh explains how people tend to interpret evidence in a way that confirms their assumptions and preconceptions.

Memory Malleability – Dr. Elizabeth Loftus discusses how memory is constructed and how it is susceptible to being manipulated by false information.

Eyewitness Misidentification – Dr. Jennifer Dysart explains how memory affects identification and how to prevent eyewitness misidentifications.

False Confessions – Dr. Saul Kassin explains how interrogation techniques can cause innocent people to falsely confess to crimes they didn’t commit.

Lie Detection and Demeanor Evidence – Dr. Par-Anders Granhag exposes the myth that it is possible to tell whether or not someone is being truthful from their physical ticks and mannerisms.

Tunnel Vision – Retired Detective Jim Trainum explains the harm of focusing on a single or limited police or prosecutorial theory and seeking only evidence that confirms that particular theory.

Implicit Bias – Professor L. Song Richardson explains how personal experiences shape our views and can result in unintentional bias.

For inquiries about further information on this project, contact:

Julia Lucivero, 212-364-5371, jlucivero@innocenceproject.org

Sarah Guy, 703-647-7226, guy@theiacp.org

Carey Hoffman, 513-289-1379, Ohio Innocence Project

 

 

Lessons of Wrongful Convictions: A Parent/Child Perspective

(Editor’s note: The author, Carey Hoffman, is Director of Communications for the Ohio Innocence Project.)

Every parent aspires for the best for their child.

That was true for Rickey Jackson’s parents. It was also true for Harold Franks, the Cleveland salesman killed in 1975 that Jackson and two friends were wrongfully convicted of murdering.

Of course, it is just as true for myself and my wife with our two daughters.

rickey jackson release portrait

Rickey Jackson in 2014, moments after a court ordered his release after 39 years in prison.

That’s why I was pleased our youngest, Emily, a junior at Miami University, was going to have the opportunity to hear Rickey Jackson speak when he visited her campus in October as part of a program put on by the Miami chapter of OIP-u, one of seven chapters at Ohio universities that serve as undergraduate advocacy organizations affiliated with the Ohio Innocence Project.

The realities of four decades lost to injustice can become very hard to miss when their embodiment is sitting 15 feet away from you, telling you a story of a life’s journey that you’ll never forget. Continue reading

New 360-degree Video Experience Allows Viewers to Step Into the Shoes of the Wrongfully Convicted

Only the people who have been through it can truly understand the experience of having been wrongfully convicted and sent to prison. But a new, 360-degree immersive video will allow viewers to gain greater understanding than ever before of what it is to “walk a mile in my shoes” when you are an exoneree who spent almost 40 years in prison.

That is the experience of Rickey Jackson of Cleveland, Ohio, who was exonerated in 2014. One of the longest-serving exonerees in U.S. history, the realities of his surreal, new post-prison life can be uniquely understood through the release of “Send Me Home,” a 360-degree video experience conceived and produced by Lonelyleap Film.

“Send Me Home” invites participants to take a journey in 360 degrees, as Rickey grants us entry into his private world, guiding us through time gone, family known and the spaces he lovingly embraces today. The 360-degree video transports participants into Rickey’s mindspace, urging them to reflect on the expanse of their own lives in relation to the time Rickey has lost.

Rickey was represented by the Ohio Innocence Project, which ultimately secured his release from a death sentence that began with a wrongful conviction in a 1975 murder case.

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NBA Coaches Join Awareness Effort for Wrongful Conviction Day 2018

Today, Oct. 2, is Wrongful Conviction Day — the annual international observance dedicated to ending wrongful convictions and highlighting the plight of those convicted of crimes they did not commit.

WCD_logoThis year, Wrongful Conviction Day is highlighting the role that racial bias plays in wrongful convictions and the efforts to fix the criminal justice system in its entirety. Created by the Innocence Network in 2014, Wrongful Conviction Day aims to raise awareness of the causes and remedies of wrongful conviction and to recognize the tremendous personal, social and emotional costs of wrongful conviction for innocent people and their families.

“Wrongful Conviction Day is not only part of a movement, it is also always a personal day for everyone who works on behalf of the Ohio Innocence Project,” says Mark Godsey, the OIP’s co-founder and director. Continue reading

Ten years after: An exoneree success story

“Hello truth.”

That’s the phrase Robert McClendon will always be associated with. It was his reaction 10 years ago when DNA results were announced that conclusively cleared him of the rape charge that had cost him his freedom for the previous 18 years.

But, in this 10th anniversary year of that moment, Robert says they are not necessarily the words that stick out most in his mind from that day.

mcclendon o'brien

Robert McClendon and Ron O’Brien

It was an exchange with Columbus Dispatch reporter Mike Wagner, whose reporting plays prominently in Robert’s story, that remains most vivid to Robert.

Heading into the proceedings to announce the results of the DNA comparison, no one was telling Robert what the results showed.

“No one would say anything about it. My family was bewildered, they were stunned,” Robert recalls. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, the results must have come back inconclusive.’ All kind of things were going through my mind, and I will always remember this conversation with Mike Wagner.

“Mike knew I liked basketball, and he was a high school basketball player himself, so he had said, ‘If you ever get out, we’ll have to play a game of 1-on-1.’ So no one is telling me anything, and then Mike walks by and he says the words I’ll never forget, ‘You ready for that basketball game?’ “

That is how Robert McClendon learned his 18-year nightmare was drawing to a close.

McClendon, Wagner and others involved in his case – along with fellow Ohio Innocence Project (OIP) exonerees Dean Gillispie, Laurese Glover and Nancy Smith – revisited his journey to justice this week during a panel discussion, “Hello Truth, Ten Years of Freedom” in Robert’s hometown of Columbus.

Also participating were Columbus city council member Jaiza Page, who served as moderator, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien, Judge Charles Schneider of the Franklin County Common Pleas Court, former Columbus Dispatch reporter Geoff Dutton and OIP Deputy Director Jennifer Paschen Bergeron.

Robert’s case was a true landmark moment for the innocence movement in Ohio. Continue reading

Taiwan Innocence Project helps man gain total exoneration, 32 years later

After a 32-year battle to clear his name, Su Pin-kun can finally claim the title of “exoneree.”

Su’s saga to gain justice has been one of the best known in all of Taiwan. Working with the Taiwan Innocence Project, his full exoneration was finalized with an overturned verdict on Aug. 27.

Su from Taiwan

Su Pin-kun

Su, now age 69, was originally sentenced to serve 15 years after being found guilty on charges of robbery and attempted murder in 1987, based on the testimony of a co-defendant who had pled guilty. Yet Su has steadfastly maintained his innocence from the time of his arrest, despite being subjected to treatment during interrogation that included waterboarding, sounding an air raid siren while it was being held to his ear and repeated kicks to the area of his waist.

Being aware of how Su was being treated, his co-defendant confessed to the crimes to avoid similar punishment. He subsequently recanted both his own confession and absolved Su of any guilt in later court hearings. Continue reading

Philly’s Conviction Integrity Unit adds Ohio Innocence Project veteran

With a new position in the Philadelphia Office of the District Attorney, former Ohio Innocence Project (OIP) attorney Carrie Wood knows that, although the title has changed, her goal—as the old TV saying goes, to protect the innocent—is the same.

Carrie Wood portrait1

Carrie Wood

Wood’s move from the OIP to the district attorney’s staff isn’t as dramatic a change in direction as it sounds. She is an assistant district attorney, but her assignment is with the office’s Conviction Integrity Unit.

The emergence of conviction integrity units (CIUs) is a response from within the justice system to the irrefutable evidence that has come forth through the Innocence Movement that the system is not infallible, and that sometimes those convicted and imprisoned are truly innocent.

Wood has landed her new position in Philadelphia at a particularly interesting time. A new, reform-minded district attorney, Larry Krasner, won election to the office last November. Krasner’s career experience is as a civil rights attorney and public defender.

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