Wrongful Convictions

What does it mean to be wrongfully convicted? It means "Persons who are in fact innocent but who have been wrongly convicted by a jury or other court of law." Wrongful convictions happen every day. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, the number of wrongfully convicted men and women climb every year

The state that tried and convicted Edward Meiggs has a dark reputation for incarcerating innocent people and years later letting them free because of legal error, prosecutorial misconduct, or barred DNA evidence that would have proven innocence. Two recent cases have made international news. Those cases involve Darryl Pinkins and William Barnhouse.

Both men were charged and convicted of rape. They spent more than twenty years incarcerated for crimes they never committed. With the help of the Innocence Project and Indiana University's Wrongful Convictions Clinic, Pinkins and Barnhouse were set free. 

Wrongfully convicted men Roosevelt Glenn and Darryl Pinkins are featured on Indiana Newsdesk

The Innocence Project is a not-for-profit organization that only represents men and women at no charge who can prove their innocence with DNA analyses. Indiana's branch of the Innocence Project includes Indiana University's Wrongful Convictions Clinic and its leader Frances Lee Watson. 

The problem with this sort of option is that the organization is very overwhelmed and will not accept cases in the trial-by-jury or appellate stages of a case. The Innocence Project is literally a last option.

In the mean time, men and women wrongfully convicted of crimes shovel out thousands of dollars to fight burying odds, still winding up behind bars because of the power many prosecutors enjoy in a trial where the judge also used to be a prosecutor.

Wrongful convictions are a very real problem to those who are accused and their families. People's lives have ended while incarcerated because of unstable and unsafe living conditions. Some of those people are innocent men and women. 

An explanation of the Innocence Project and its purpose

Innocence Project

Ohio Innocence Project Director Mark Godsey explains in his book Blind Injustice why people get wrongfully convicted.

Cognitive Dissonance: occurs when facts disrupt the belief system of someone. For judges, prosecutors, and the police force, this is believing someone is guilty even though there is evidence that proves the defendant is innocent.

Administrative Evil: is the result of single persons doing what they're "supposed to do" based on the expectations of their peers. Since courts, prosecutor's offices, and police departments guard individuals with umbrellas of establishments, there is no single person held accountable.

Dehumanization: is part of the jobs of police officers - notably detectives - and prosecutors in order to get their jobs done. Police and prosecutors have to view suspects as less than human in order to get confessions, evidence, and convictions.

Also noted in Godsey's book Blind Injustice are the sort of incentives judges, prosecutors, and police departments have to convict people. From judicial election popularity, to getting that department bonus, to keeping a job; it doesn't matter if the person is innocent. What matters is getting that conviction.

Why Does It Happen?

The Doctors segment features wrongfully convicted men and women accompanied by Ohio Innocence Project Director

December 31, 2017

Keith Cooper case revives exoneration work by Notre Dame law students

​SOUTH BEND — When a Notre Dame Law School administrator sent out a list of inactive student organizations in summer 2016, seeking volunteers to revive some of the dormant clubs, one stood out to Tia Paulette — the Innocence Project.

December 28, 2017

He was wrongly convicted and spent 31 years in prison. Now he's asking the state for $1 million

Days after Gov. Bill Haslam exonerated a Wilson County man who was wrongfully convicted of rape and burglary, his lawyers have asked the state for $1 million in damages.

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December 27, 2017

In first trip back to Simi Valley, wrongfully convicted man sets historic record right

In his first trip back to Simi Valley since he was wrongfully convicted of murder, Craig Coley rewrote history Wednesday by taking the photo of his 1978 arrest off the police station’s wall. 

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