Neufeld: Justice System Should Do Audits After Wrongful Convictions


The culture of the criminal justice system has not changed enough to prevent wrongful convictions, Peter Neufeld, co-founder of the Innocence Project, tells Slate. com. “We don’t have inquiries when wrongful convictions occur; they just happen and that’s the end of it,” Neufeld says. “We should have a system in place where you do audits when you get a wrongful conviction–where you look at a person’s body of work to see if this was a one-off situation or there was evidence of a systemic defect, either with an individual, with a police department, or with a way of doing things. If you could show people that what you were going to do with this data was simply improve the system, I think the culture would change and people would be more willing to admit they were wrong.”

Neufeld says that although some prosecutors “believe in DNA wholeheartedly and want to cooperate with us,” there is “a whole category of prosecutors and detectives who say, ‘No, I’m sure [the guy I convicted] is guilty. I can’t tell you how, I can’t give you a logical explanation, but he’s guilty’ ” Neufeld says, “what’s scary is that these people are part of a system that’s predicated on logic and reasoning to see that justice is done. Yet they will ignore all logic and reason to protect their egos and their psyches. And it requires a complete disconnect, too, because these guys rely on DNA to convict bad guys all the time. But when the DNA works against them, they say something must have gone wrong.”

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