Three big-city prosecutors who have formed special units to review—and correct—errors made by their offices say a “cultural shift” is necessary to persuade politicians, police and their own attorneys that it is more important to avoid mistakes than to simply win convictions.
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.
After a murder conviction is overturned, how eager are prosecutors to reexamine the evidence and find the real killer? A journalist who investigated 263 vacated cases around the nation since 2006 says it happens rarely.
Sixty-three people have sought relief under a 2004 law that allows up to $500,000 in compensation for wrongful convictions. Twenty-three cases have been settled for sums ranging from $60,000 to the legal maximum, and 17 others are pending. One critic says that the $500,000 maximum is inadequate.
A record number of people wrongly convicted of crimes were exonerated in 2015, with 42 wrongful convictions in Houston’s Harris County drug cases boosting the nationwide tally to 149, says the National Registry of Exonerations’ annual report. The Texas Tribune says the most exonerations, 105, were in homicide and drug cases. Texas led in overall exonerations with 54, followed in distant second by New York with 17. Last year’s record barely exceeds the 139 exonerations documented in 2014. The Texas […]
New York City is doubling down its efforts to stop Alan Newton, who spent 22 years behind bars for a rape he didn't commit, from collecting the $18 million verdict a jury awarded him in 2010, reports the New York Daily News. “This is a journey that started in 1984, and it's still going on because the city refuses to take any responsibility,” Newton said. Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin set aside the jury verdict in 2011, arguing Newton wasn't entitled […]
The Los Angeles County Council yesterday agreed to pay more than $24 million to settle lawsuits by two men who alleged that investigations by dishonest Los Angeles police detectives led to their wrongful murder convictions and caused them to spend decades behind bars, reports the Los Angeles Times. Kash Delano Register, who won his freedom in 2013 after lawyers and students from Loyola Law School cast doubt on the testimony of a key prosecution witness, will get $16.7 million, the […]
The Guardian tells the story of Tyra Patterson, Ohio prisoner 037737, who was has been locked up for 21 years. Today, the 7,787th behind bars for Patterson, one out of every 110 adult Americans lives under the lock and key of the planet's largest jailer. Patterson is black; in Ohio, the ratio of incarcerated black people to the general African-American population is almost six times the equivalent ratio for white people. Nationally, one in 18 black women can expect to […]
One winter night in 1990, a Philadelphia barber named Muhammad Don Ray Adams was cutting a neighbor's hair when gunshots rang out a few blocks away. He kept right on barbering; gunshots were just part of the evening soundtrack in North Philly. But a few hours later, he got word that cops were eyeing him as the gunman. The buzz around the neighborhood was that someone named Don Ray had fired the shots, killing two drug dealers. Eyewitnesses had described […]
All states have laws and judicial rulings regarding criminal interrogation. The rules are intended to insure that confessions, and other incriminating statements, are voluntary and not the result of coercion or offers of leniency. In New York State for example, a statute prohibits tactics that create a substantial likelihood of producing a false incriminating statement. Such rules are designed to maintain the reliability of evidence, and to protect the integrity of criminal prosecutions. But there is a peculiar gap in […]