Reasons for Wrongful Convictions

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In every justice system, there is a risk of convicting innocent people. A wrongful conviction can be done deliberately or by mistake. Some of the reasons why wrongful convictions exist include eyewitness misidentification, misleading forensic evidence, false accusation, and government misconduct. However, there are possible ways which can help in preventing wrongful convictions. Therefore, the paper intends to discuss the reasons for wrongful conviction and the means to avoid such convictions.

Witness misidentification

Witness misidentification is one of the significant contributors to wrongful convictions. According to research, witness misidentification made up to 43% of the cases which were reported to be wrongful convictions (Gould and Leo, 2010). The human mind is not a machine and might not remember everything it comes across. People may not recall events precisely as they saw them. However, the witness memory is like any other evidence in a court and must be preserved carefully. Therefore, when people do not remember all the events exactly how they unfolded, they might risk convicting the wrong suspects. Cognitive biases can be pervasive and may lead to wrongful convictions.

Misleading forensic evidence

Misleading forensic evidence can be a contributor to the increased rates in wrongful convictions (Garett and Neufeld, 2009). Most of the methods of testing forensic evidence have been used with little or no science authentication. There may not be enough assessments on their significance and reliability in examining such evidence. Therefore, some cases may involve forensic experts testifying in cases without proper scientific basis to their findings. Junk science is a significant contributor to misleading forensic evidence. However, some cases may involve forensic analysts being engaged in misconduct.

Official misconduct

Other cases may involve official misconduct by the government officials and prosecutors. Sometimes the officials may take some steps to ensure that the prisoner at the bar is convicted (Gould and Leo, 2010). Such misconduct encompasses all the behavior which affects the evidence that is available in court with the aim of prosecuting the accused. It may include abusive investigative practices which may lead to the officials committing or procuring perjury. Notwithstanding, it can consist of torture and threats during interrogations. Furthermore, some officials may decide to frame innocent suspects for criminal activity that never occurred. In other cases, the defense representation may contribute where there is a severely inadequate legal defense.<\/p>

False confessions

Notwithstanding, false confessions can be a crucial factor in wrongful convictions (Armbrust and Friedman, 2014).\u00a0 Innocent defendants may make incriminating statements by delivering outright admissions and pleading guilty to a specific crime. Such suspects may realize that confessing might be beneficial to them than maintaining their innocence. However, some factors may contribute to such false confessions including coercive interrogation techniques by the officials. The state of the confessor can be a significant factor to such admissions.<\/p>

Conviction review units

It is essential to establish conviction review units and give them the opportunity to report on questionable convictions.\u00a0 It will be the most effective way to prevent such wrongful convictions. Since 43% of the wrongful convictions result from witness misidentification, reviewing such allegations may bring up evidence which had not been available in the court (Gould and Leo, 2010). Notwithstanding, the review units will concentrate on the fact-based approach rather than the law-based approach. Therefore, cases of false confessions may be reduced since the review units may review the interrogation techniques employed by the prosecutors. Research shows that a significant number of convictions result from false confessions due to pressure by the prosecutors. In case the accused was not in their right state of mind then they can get a chance of a new trial.<\/p>


It is evident that wrongful convictions are a risk in any justice system. However, conviction review units can help in reducing the number of wrongful convictions since it addresses possible allegations of innocence. Therefore, the paper explores the reasons for wrongful conviction and the ways to avoid such convictions.<\/p>


Armbrust, S., & Friedman, S. (2014). Causes of Wrongful Convictions. Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice, 303-310.

Garrett, B. L., & Neufeld, P. J. (2009). Invalid forensic science testimony and wrongful convictions. Virginia Law Review, 1-97.

Gould, J. B., & Leo, R. A. (2010). One hundred years later: Wrongful convictions after a century of research. The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 825-868.

December 12, 2023

Crime Law

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