Courts often agree to keep the details about wrongful convictions confidential. But if we’re serious about learning from these tragedies, the public deserves to know more than just the settlement amount paid in its name, argues a Boston defense attorney.
The 151 men and women released from U.S. prisons last year after their cases were dismissed spent a total of 1,639 years incarcerated for crimes they didn’t commit, the National Registry of Exonerations said in its annual report. The Registry called it a “record.”
A murder conviction that sent two Florida men to prison for 43 years was reversed last month. The victory illustrates why more prosecutors—and legislators—need to support the still-fragile efforts of conviction integrity units to bring justice to the wrongfully accused, writes a former prosecutor.
Prosecutors’ pursuit of convictions at any cost and public defenders’ insufficient resources have too often combined to thwart defendants’ chances of a fair trial. Here’s an alternative approach proposed by Miami’s public defender and a former deputy assistant attorney general.
Three Dallas men freed after being exonerated for crimes they didn’t commit have dedicated the rest of their lives to saving others in the same situation. Filmmaker Jamie Meltzer tells their story in a PBS documentary to be aired Monday.
Calvin Buari, convicted of a double murder he didn’t commit, was a casualty of over-zealous prosecutors in New York’s tough-on-crime era of the 1990s. In a conversation with The Crime Report about his new podcast, “Empire on Blood,” investigative journalist Steve Fishman tells the story of the battle to clear his name.
The cases involved former police Sgt. Ronald Watts, who was sent to federal prison in 2013 for stealing money from a drug courier who was an FBI informant. A defense attorney says 400 more convictions deserve scrutiny.
Roger Dean Gillispie was found guilty of rape, even though he didn’t match eyewitness descriptions, and the evidence made clear he was nowhere near the scene of the crime. He spent more than 20 years behind bars until the Ohio Supreme Court this year gave him back his freedom. The director of the Ohio Innocence Project, who worked on his case, tells the story.
Although appellate courts can’t know whether a defendant is actually innocent, they can—or should—know when a trial is unfair. Unfortunately, says a New York attorney who writes under the pseudonym “Appellate Squawk,” most are simply rubber stamps for miscarriages of justice in lower courts.