The St. Louis Post-Dispatch identified 100 people arrested in error over the past seven years in what the newspaper calls “a broken St. Louis city justice system.” Collectively, they spent more than 2,000 days in jail — an average of about three weeks each. One man alone was incarcerated 211 days. About a quarter were held repeatedly — one of them, five times — and 15 were locked up while the right suspect was already behind bars.
Almost all the mistakes could have been prevented — or at least fixed immediately — had authorities paid attention to what fingerprints tried to tell them from the start. Confronted by reporters 21 months ago with examples of several wrongful arrests, prosecutor Jennifer Joyce and Eddie Roth, a senior aide to Mayor Francis Slay, expressed concern and pledged reforms. Their response has hardened. “I worry about a lot of things. I don't worry about this,” Roth now says. He said he has faith in the system's ability to correct mistakes.