The Veritas Initiative and the Causes of Wrongful Conviction:
As the pace of DNA exonerations has grown across the U.S. in recent years, over 250 convicted people have thus far been found innocent after DNA testing. We now have insight into some disturbing fissures in our criminal justice system regarding the causes of wrongful convictions.
Learning from cases in which the criminal justice system has made mistakes, innocence projects around the country have identified some of the contributing causes common in wrongful convictions. These include eyewitness misidentification, government misconduct, bad lawyering, the use of junk science, the testimonies of convicted informants/snitches, and false confessions.
In addition to these seven causes of wrongful conviction, there are many additional hurdles to justice the wrongly imprisoned face, such as access to records, access to DNA evidence and testing, and issues around evidence retention. When the wrongfully convicted are released from prison, ironically, they have less access to services than parolees, who are actually guilty of a crime, and must prove their innocence all over again to receive compensation.
The Veritas Initiative is currently conducting research and issuing critical data-driven reports in The following area:
Focusing on these areas through the use of case profiles, the Veritas Initiative aims to shed light on how these common causes of wrongful convictions have affected the outcomes of actual cases and how these injustices could have been prevented.
Read more on the causes of wrongful convictions:
Convicting the Innocent: Aberration or Systemic Problem?
by Rodney Uphoff, University of Missouri School of Law
Eyewitness Misidentification by the Innocence Project
Erroneous Eyewitness I.D. by the Center on Wrongful Convictions
Eyewitness Identification: A Policy Review by the Justice Project
Forensic Science Misconduct by the Innocence Project
Unreliable and Limited Science by the Innocence Project
Junk Science by the Center on Wrongful Convictions
Informants/Snitches by the Innocence Project
Bad Lawyering by the Innocence Project