We have previously written about common problems with the juvenile justice system, both here in Wisconsin and around the country. Courts are supposed to treat juvenile crimes and young offenders differently than adults (focusing on rehabilitation rather than simple punishment). Unfortunately, young offenders are too often incarcerated, resulting in significant costs to taxpayers and significant risks to the futures of the incarcerated youths.
There are many reasons why wrongful conviction is a persistent problem in the United States, including some we have discussed recently (false confessions, for instance). And while wrongful convictions are often the result of shoddy work by police and prosecutors, the mistakes are usually honest ones.
Our post last week focused on the fallibility of human memory. It is tempting to conceptualize our memories as a recorded video that captures the objective record of what we have experienced. Unfortunately, our memories are far less accurate than that.
Last month, we wrote about some of the reasons why false criminal confessions are so common. In many cases, suspects are coerced into saying things they know are not true, either because they fear for their safety or do not understand their rights.