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February 2020 Archives

Does registering and banning people actually prevent crime?

Although we're not from New York City, we can agree that there is probably too much public lewdness and unwanted touching going on in the city's subways. Earlier this month, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a plan to clean up public transit: banning "repeat and high-risk sexual offenders" from buses, trains and subways for three years.

Mistaken eyewitness IDs occurred in nearly 70% of exonerations

According to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, evidence from eyewitnesses is "a unique threat to the fairness of trial." She cited research that found eyewitness misidentifications to be the "single greatest cause" of wrongful convictions in the United States.

Do pretrial risk assessment tools produce good results?

It's a travesty when people are stuck behind bars for months or even years before they have even been convicted of a crime. However, there are sometimes good reasons to deny a person bail, such as when they are an obvious flight risk or a clear danger to the community.

How could $145 million improve forensic science?

"I think we can safely say that bite mark evidence is just junk," says Michael Semanchik of the California Innocence Project. He speaks with some authority, as he has worked for many years on the exoneration of Bill Richards, who was falsely convicted of his wife's 1993 murder.

'Perfect storm' of injustice overturned in wrongful conviction

"Theophalis Wilson, you are free to go," said a Philadelphia judge recently. She was releasing a man who has been exonerated of the three 1989 killings he was convicted of as a teenager.

Three ways prosecutors use coercion in plea bargaining

Plea bargaining is a bedrock of our criminal justice system. Governments simply don't have the money to take every criminal defendant to trial. They rely on the fact that a large proportion of defendants will opt for a plea deal if it means less prison time.

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