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Have You Ever Wondered Why the Innocent End up Incarcerated?

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Question: Have you ever wondered why the innocent end up incarcerated?


It is too easy to convict an innocent person. The rate of wrongful convictions in the United States in estimated to be somewhere between 2 percent and 10 percent. That may sound low, nut when we applied an estimated prison population of 2.3 million, the number become staggering. Can there really be 46,000 to 230,000 innocent people locked away? Those of us who are involved in exoneration work firmly believe so.

Main Points:

According to Michigan Law University of Michigan these are some of the main reasons innocent people end up incarcerated.

1) False confessions- in many cases, innocent defendants make incriminating statements, deliver outright confessions, or plea guilty. Regardless of the age, capacity, or state of the confessor, what they often have in common is a decision-at some point during the interrogation process-that confessing will be more beneficial to them than continuing to maintain their innocence.

2) Government Misconduct- in some cases, government officials take steps to ensure that a defendant in convicted despite weak evidence or even clear proof of innocence.

3) Bad Lawyering- The failure of overworked lawyers to investigate, call witnesses, or prepare for trial has led to the conviction of innocent people.


Once an innocent person is convicted, it is next to impossible to get the individual out of prison. Over the past years, the Innocence Project has secured through DNA testing the release of 349 innocent men and women, 20 of whom had been sent to death row. All told there have been more than 2,000 exonerations, including 200 from death row, in the U.S. during that same period. But we’ve only scratched the surface.

Case Example:

The Central Park jogger case was a criminal case based on the assault and rape of Trisha Meili.

These kids are examples of all 3 main points I covered, False confessions, Government Misconduct and Bad Lawyering.

These kids at the time were all 16 years of age or younger, all were interviewed and later interrogated for over 24 hours. These kids were told if they told the investigators the truth they would all be released and go home. They had no parents or lawyer representation at the time the interrogations took place. Linda Fairstein



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