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June 20, 2011

New Illinois study seeks to price the costs of wrongful convictions

New_Causes_Bar As detailed in this New York Times article, headlined "Costs Are High for Convictions of Wrong People," a new study released today by Better Government Association and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern seeks to detail the high costs of wrongful convictions. Here is a summary of the report's findings via the Times

The [Better Government Association], a nonprofit watchdog and advocacy group, said the study was the first to document the economic and social costs of the 85 convictions in the state that were overturned between 1989 — the advent of modern DNA testing — and 2010.  In all, the study said, those wrongful convictions have cost Illinois taxpayers $214 million, and the amount will probably increase to $300 million once 16 pending lawsuits are settled....

The perpetrators of crimes for which others were convicted went on to commit at least 94 more felonies, including 14 murders and 11 sexual assaults, according to the study.  It said 83 men and 2 women spent a total of 926 years behind bars for crimes they did not commit....

In 81 of the 85 cases, the study found what it said was either misconduct or error by state officials — in 66 cases by the police, in 44 by prosecutors and in 29 by forensic specialists.

The full study with lots of data and charts and graphs are available at this link.

June 20, 2011 at 10:59 PM | Permalink


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All parties should be liable to the kidnapped and falsely imprisoned person, especially the judge. Because misconduct seems to be so prevalent, taxpayers should not be made to pay. Misconduct was not part of the job. The person should be held individually liable, and carry insurance to avoid having to pay from assets. The misconduct breaks rules, especially the one against perjury. The liability is therefore per se. Each should also be criminally prosecuted if proven to have violated a criminal law. To deter.

The estates of the murder victims, and of the assault victims of the real perpetrators should also be allowed standing to sue. But for the misconduct, more likely than not, the real guilty party would have been in prison, and the damage would not have happened. The needless victims should at least be given an opportunity to show that in a trial.

This study supports 1) incapacitation as the sole mature purpose of the criminal law, with 14 murders and many assaults when the wrong person is incapacitated; 2) No eyewitness testimony without physical evidence corroboration; 3) obsolete, Medieval rules of evidence result in bad rates of false positive (beyond a reasonable doubt has about 80% certainty, so 20% of convictions will be false without misconduct, where 99% certainty is desirable.

The most outrageous failure is not this false positive problem, but the false negative one. The lawyer is failing to answer 90% of serious crime, of which 20 million take place, yearly, with only 2 million prosecutions a year. There is 90% immunity for committing an FBI Index felony. These feminists are having fun prosecuting child porn downloaders and illegal aliens, when murders and rapes are going unanswered, including those of actual children, in the hundreds.

One suspects a strong feminist bias in the "non-partisan" study group. They failed to address the problem of the use of false allegations by females against productive males, and the reflexive, automatic acceptance by the pro-feminist, biased courts. Such bias should also result in a per se verdict in tort liability, especially for the judge. Judges must be made to pay. To deter.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 21, 2011 4:10:57 AM

The needless victims should at least be given an opportunity to show that in a trial.

Posted by: live pakistan news | Jun 21, 2011 8:32:26 AM

There has been a lot of news with sentencing and its structure in the UK recently

Posted by: Qamar Solicitors Huddersfield | Jun 21, 2011 9:13:30 AM

Should I wait for the NYT to publish a piece on the human and financial costs of wrongful acquittals?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jun 21, 2011 1:18:31 PM

I have graduated with a degree in government, plus minors, within the fields of Sociology and Anthropology.

I like to keep myself informed on issues that I want to write about. For instance, here in California, prison issue is one of the topics that interest me the most. As a result, I am also interested in what other states are doing about overcrowding, and the medical situations within their institutions.

I am also very happy about the new ruling as it relates to juveniles. For example, here in northern California the police is very big on pulling juveniles out of class for questioning, and hauling them off to Juvenile Hall. Second, police and prosecutors here in this part of California has a tendency to charge 12 or more juveniles with the same crime, just because they happened to be at a party where someone was shot and/or murdered(fact, it has happened twice already).
Third, eye-witness and mistaken identity is another big problem, at least when it crosses ethnic and/or racial lines.

In conclusion, thank you for your blog, and thank you for being dedicated to informing whomever wishing to be informed, because the knowledge one gains, should allow one to debate the issues with some authority.

Posted by: Ann-Belinda Honablezh | Jun 21, 2011 9:42:25 PM

Bill: Or just plain failure to prosecute, with 20 million crimes a year, answered by 2 million prosecutions. Major crime is nearly totally immune in the US. Regulatory crime, the slightest error in paper work, mala prohibita, and the witch hunt of the productive male, those are nearly 100% prosecuted.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 22, 2011 3:40:00 AM

SC -

You have a point (although you overdo it). Failure to prosecute is indeed a problem, but it ain't gonna get better, what with the debt crisis.

When crime goes unpunished, there are consequences, and one of them is more crime.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jun 22, 2011 10:13:27 AM

well bill a way to make a START is simple for the Govt

tell those 2 million prosecutors that if they are not prosecuting someone who has actualy used violence against a REAL person....they no longer have a job.

That would cut down on the millions of prosecutons of bullshit charges and up those against real major crimes!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jun 22, 2011 1:52:05 PM

Bill: I know I overdo things. However, those numbers are not overdone. They are from the DOJ household victimization survey, stopped by the current administration to enhance its methodology, when it was already the gold standard of crime measurement. The FBI Index felonies are all real crimes, not regulatory gotchas. Here they are. First four are violent. There are 5 million of those a year. Aside from victim impacts, they each devastate the real estate values for blocks around.

1. Criminal Homicide

2. Forcible Rape

3. Robbery

4. Aggravated Assault

5. Burglary

6. Larceny-Theft

7. Motor Vehicle Theft

8. Arson

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 23, 2011 9:41:12 PM

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