Last month, Frank Sterling was exonerated by DNA evidence after being incarcerated 18 years for a crime he did not commit. Sterling was wrongfully convicted of murdering an elderly woman in Rochester, New York in 1988. His conviction was based entirely on a false confession. In the meantime the actual killer remained free, and six years later he murdered four-year-old Kali Poulton. This tragedy leaves no question that addressing the flaws in our criminal justice system that lead to wrongful convictions is a public safety imperative.
|By: John Terzano Wednesday May 19, 2010 11:44 am|
|By: John Terzano Friday April 30, 2010 12:35 pm|
On April 5th Ohio Governor Ted Strickland signed a reform bill that will help reduce wrongful convictions and improve the fairness and accuracy of our criminal justice system. Among the measures included are safeguards to improve the eyewitness identification process by requiring police to use a more accurate protocol for administering live and photo lineups. The new protocol reflects the growing awareness that eyewitness evidence is fragile, and much like trace physical evidence must be collected very carefully, or it may become tainted.
|By: John Terzano Thursday March 4, 2010 12:51 pm|
After seventeen years, Gregory Taylor was finally freed on February 17th when the three judge panel of the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission unanimously ruled to exonerate him. North Carolina created the commission to investigate and evaluate post-conviction claims of innocence in 2006 and is the first of its kind in the United States. Taylor, wrongfully convicted of first degree murder in 1993, is the first person to be exonerated by the commission.
|By: edwincolfax Tuesday March 2, 2010 2:42 pm|
On March 1 Texas Governor Rick Perry officially pardoned Timothy Cole, who was wrongfully convicted over two decades ago. Tragically, the DNA tests that proved Cole’s innocence came too late: he died in prison in 1999 while serving time for a rape he did not commit. A faulty lineup led to inaccurate eyewitness evidence in Cole’s case, which serves as a reminder of the urgent need for eyewitness identification reforms that increase reliability and reduce the risk of mistakes. Cole’s case was one of the thirty-nine Texas wrongful convictions exposed by DNA profiled in The Justice Project’s report Convicting the Innocent: Texas Justice Derailed.
|By: John Terzano Monday November 23, 2009 10:33 am|
All too often, prosecutors’ offices fall prey to a culture of conviction-seeking at all costs. Prosecutors who become singularly focused on conviction rates often neglect their ethical duty to protect the innocent and guard the rights of the accused. Due in large part to the public pressure to convict and the widespread failure of state bars and disciplinary agencies to hold prosecutors accountable for ethical violations, this culture of “convict at all costs” is a nationwide problem.
|By: John Terzano Wednesday November 4, 2009 6:12 am|
Charged with dual roles as advocates and ministers of justice, prosecutors are the most powerful actors in our criminal justice system. Today, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Pottawattamie County v. McGhee, which is a wrongful conviction case about prosecutorial immunity. No matter the outcome of this particular case, it is yet another example of why it is so important for states to enact reforms to ensure that prosecutors who abuse their powers are held accountable for their actions.
|By: edwincolfax Tuesday November 3, 2009 5:59 am|
Texas has made many headlines in recent years for the spate of exonerations of wrongfully convicted men. Claude Simmons Jr. and Christopher Scott were released from custody in Dallas on October 23 based on new evidence of innocence, including the corroborated confession of one of the true perpetrators.
|By: John Terzano Tuesday October 13, 2009 6:46 am|
Texas has had more than its share of tragic wrongful convictions. Of the more than 40 people exonerated by DNA in Texas, one of the most heartbreaking cases is that of Timothy Cole. So far, Texas has been slow to respond to the long list of mistakes that exist in each of these wrongful convictions. These mistakes have forced innocent people to spend over 500 years in prison for crimes they did not commit. But that may be about to change.
|By: John Terzano Tuesday September 22, 2009 7:06 am|
A new report published by The Justice Project, Convicting the Innocent in Georgia: Stories of Injustice and the Reforms that Can Prevent Them highlights thirteen cases of wrongful conviction in Georgia that caused twenty men to collectively spend nearly 170 years in prison.
|By: John Terzano Tuesday August 25, 2009 5:39 am|
Last week, the San Jose Mercury News reported that Jeffrey Rodriguez, a man from San Jose who spent five years in prison for a crime he did not commit, was awarded a $1 million settlement from Santa Clara County for his wrongful conviction. Earlier this month a Louisiana circuit court of appeals upheld a $14 million jury settlement against the Orleans Parish DA for misconduct resulting in the wrongful conviction and death sentence of John Thompson. In addition to the unconscionable act of incarcerating a person for years for a crime they did not commit, wrongful convictions impose an enormous financial burden on taxpayers. In this economic climate, can states really afford to have a criminal justice system prone to dangerous, costly errors?