Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Counting the innocent

Adam Liptak, writing in today's NY Times, thoughtfully discusses the question of how many are wrongfully convicted.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia using last years' argument by Morris Hoffman (discussed earlier on this blog) defends the reliability of the judicial system, but the hard math and research by Samuel R. Gross, a law professor at the University of Michigan, are both convincing and troubling. Liptak writes:

Professor Gross concluded that the false conviction rate for death row inmates has ranged from 2.3 percent to 5 percent. Were even the lower end of that range applied to people who received prison sentences of a year or more in the last three decades, he wrote, it would suggest that about 185,000 innocent people have served hard time.

Liptak goes on to point out that

Justice Scalia, for his part, focused on what he saw as good news. “Reversal of an erroneous conviction,” he wrote, “demonstrates not the failure of the system but its success.”

For Todd's sake, and for the sake of Justice, we hope that the system will "demonstrate its success" when it reverses his erroneous conviction.

No comments: