A Dozen Key Problems In Criminal Justice System, From a Federal Judge


Conservative Judge Alex Kozinski of the San Francisco-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has offered a dozen reasons to worry about the criminal justice system. Writing in “Criminal Law 2.0” in the Georgetown Law Journal, the judge cites these items (as summarized by his former law clerk, Eugene Volokh, for the Washington Post): Unreliability of much eyewitness testimony, errors in fingerprint identification, forensic evidence “built on nothing but guesswork and false common sense,” flaws in testing DNA evidence, flawed human memory, “confessions” by innocent people.

Also, juries that don’t follow instructions, prosecutors who don’t play fair, juries that convict because the prosecution goes first in a trial, police who “stack the deck against people they believe should be convicted,” guilty pleas that don’t really prove guilt, and failure of long prison terms to deter crime. On the last subject, Kozinski says, “We may be spending scarce taxpayer dollars maintaining the largest prison population in the industrialized world, shattering countless lives and families, for no good reason.”

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