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20 Oct

By Dick Blanchard, Executive Director, Advocates 4 Wrongfully Convicted

It has become a fairly known fact that the criminal justice system in America is broken. Day after day we read about people that have been released from prison and exonerated due to wrongful convictions for crimes they did not commit. Many of these people had been sentenced to life sentences without parole, or sentences for many years and yes people even on death row; there is even proof that some innocent people have been actually executed for crimes they did not commit. And for all those people having their convictions overturned there are tens of thousands of innocent people still in U.S. prisons; most of them will die in prison never having their conviction overturned or not even looked at or reviewed.

Why did the justice system in America start sending innocent people to prison on a fairly regular basis? Remember the Willie Horton case in the Bush vs. Dukakis presidential race of 1988? A big deal was made by the Bush campaign that Gov. Michael Dukakis was soft on crime when he released convicted murderer, Willie Horton on ten weekend passes only to have Horton commit another series crime while he was out on a weekend pass. Bush won the presidency in 1988 in no small part to his relentless pursuit of Dukakis being soft on crime. It didn’t take long for politicians, including judges and prosecutors to see they could win political office by painting their opponent with the soft on crime tag and painting themselves as hard on crime and criminals. Once in office these righteous prosecutors started convicting not only the guilty but also the innocent to show their constituents that they took crime very seriously and would do whatever necessary to obtain a conviction, right or wrong.  Likewise judges that were up for election didn’t want to appear soft on crime by releasing people convicted of a crime and rarely took the time to see if just maybe the person up for appellate review was in fact innocent. Once this tend started it began to snowball and sadly continues to present time. Even though much has been done in the past ten years to help prevent wrongful convictions there are still far to many innocent people wrongfully convicted, and once convicted and in prison their chances of having their convictions overturned are quite slim.

The Innocence Project has stated that there are six causes for wrongful convictions:

  1. Junk science
  2. Bad lawyering
  3. Eyewitness testimony
  4. Informants
  5. Government misconduct
  6. False confessions

Any combinations of any one of these causes are apt to result in a wrongful conviction which sends an innocent person to prison for a crime that he/she did not commit.

But there is another side to wrongful convictions besides these six causes. The other side of wrongful convictions is the psychology of role players that are involved in the criminal justice system.

A few months ago I was having a conversation with a lawyer friend and he stated something so obvious that I wondered why I had never considered it before. He said that when a person decides to go to trial as a defendant it’s him/her against the world. So who are the role players that is on the opposite side of the defendant?

The Criminal Justice System Role Players:

  1. The Police
  2. The Prosecution
  3. The Trial Lawyer
  4. The State’s Witnesses
  5. The Judge
  6. The Jury
  7. The Appellate Lawyer
  8. The Appellate Courts
  9. The Media

When one looks at the above list some of these people seem pretty obvious. You would expect the police, the prosecutor and the state’s witnesses to be on the other side of the defendant. But would you expect his own lawyers, the judge, the jury, the appellate courts and the media to be against him/her as well?

In a series of upcoming blogs I will take each one of these nine groups and show how each one opposes the defendant and why this opposition often leads to a wrongful conviction.

  1. Wrongful Convictions – The Role of the Police
  2. Wrongful Convictions – The Role of the Prosecution
  3. Wrongful Convictions – The Role of the Defense Trial Lawyer
  4. Wrongful Convictions – The Role of the State’s Witnesses
  5. Wrongful Convictions – The Role of the Judge
  6. Wrongful Convictions – The Role of the Jury
  7. Wrongful Convictions – The Role of The Defense Appellate Lawyer
  8. Wrongful Convictions – The Role of the Appellate Courts
  9. Wrongful Convictions – The Role of the Media

One other thing to remember is when a person decides to go to trial they MUST prove their innocence. Yes, the law says a person is to be assumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt but don’t believe it; just ask anyone who was wrongfully convicted if they were presumed innocent. Presumption of innocence may have been the standard in the past but in today’s world of the U.S Criminal Justice System that no longer holds true. The following nine blogs will show you just how much the cards are stacked against the defendant and why he/she MUST prove their innocence, often beyond all doubt.

The Psychology of Wrongful Convictions

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16 responses to “The Psychology of Wrongful Convictions

  1. Leo Cardenas

    December 4, 2012 at 12:58 am

    Hello! My name’s Leo Cardenas, and I know this to be true. Criminals accuse, and plot, strategize, and get all these other people involved (accomplices) in order to send an innocent person to prison, and make it all legal. The media helps them tremendously by spreding, and publisizing their lies. The media is blind, or wants to be blind. They never question the authorities who provide them with information whether the information they are receiving is true or false. This is negligence on their part. If they ask to see or know what the evidence against the accused is, they are told that the evidence cannot be disclosed for one reason or another, and they buy this absurd response or logistic. I was convicted in 1986 of four crimes I did not commit. My lawyer, Katherine Steel Knox, was well aware that I had not committed the crimes I was accused of committing, she told me that herself. In fact, she knew that the person who had committed the crimes was in the same jail I was (Franklin County, WA), accused of other charges, but she advised me to plea guilty because if I decided to take to trial I would be found guilty anyway. The offered to release immediately if I chose to admit that I, not the real criminal, had committed the crimes. I rejected their offered. I took my case to trial, and even though the State’s star witness testified that it wasn’t me whom she saw committed the crimes against her neighbor, I was found guilty. Incredible? yes, but so very true. This conviction completely destroyed my life, I lost my family, their credibility in me, which it hurt me the most. This conviction has haunted me to this date, and it keeps hurting me. I want justice, I want to be compensated, and I want to face those who convicted me, and question them why they would commit such crimes while claiming to be the enforcers of justice, and protectors of the innocent. I would appreciated if someone after can offer me their support and assistance in bring this out to the public, the media who helped these criminals, I want to talk to them too. I am a free man now, but I wasted 23 years of my life in prison over this crap.

    In 1989/1990, I was convicted of yet another petty crime. And although the crime took place, and the witnesses testified that it happened at a time and date I was under the custody of the Department of Corrections, I was still convicted of it. Now, how crazy is that? Do I trust the legal system? Hell NO! I know that they are the worse, ruthless, cowards, and criminals. They would stop at nothing to gain personal gain, and status.

     
    • Pauline

      October 11, 2013 at 11:02 pm

      Thank you for your courage to let it be known just how the criminal justice system is so flawed, I too have a love one who is incarcerated in prison for something he did not do. It breaks my heart to see him suffer needlessly because someone lied on him.

       
  2. shannon@gmail.com

    June 26, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    Hello My name is Shannon L Williams,
    yesterday, my husband Sgt Gene N Williams was convicted of crimes he did not commit. during the trail the judge acted unfairly and unlawfully, examples are he allowed altered evidence to be submitted when the original unaltered evidence was available, He allowed the jury to hear severe uncharged misconduct, the defense council asked for a mistrial about ten times and he denied everyone of them, he made comments and gestures throughout the trail that were bias and when defense asked him to disqualify his self he refused, the judge also asked the witness questions while they were on the stand to allow them to change their testimony, the list goes on and on of the unlawful things that were done during this trail. I am trying to bring attention to this issue and If you cannot help me I would ask that you point me in the right direction. My husband Sgt Gene N Williams will be sitting in prison innocent and without ever have getting a fair trail. I have attorneys that are willing to talk to anyone that lets me know that they are willing to help me, they can paint a clearer picture of how unjust this trail was. Please give me a call at 910-303-2221 or email me back at love4shannon@gmail.com. It is my belief that my husband was sacrificed in order to help clean up the Army’s image on the way they handle sexual crimes. Once you see how unfair this trail was I hope that you will develop a passion to help me. Thanks for your time

     
  3. Jacqueline

    July 29, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    What if you was a battered wife and your husband at the time said that you were not invalved. I have all of my paper work but need some one that will help me get my conviction drop. But i need an atterney that will do it probono.

     
  4. Steve

    September 21, 2013 at 5:13 am

    Have I got a wrongful conviction case for you. I have a website and blog.This case is very shocking and it is a very strong case with evidence that proves I am innocent. I would like to find an attorney that would take this case and care. I want justice. This case involves a confession from the child accuser where he admits that his own mother made him lie. Websites: http://www.falseconvictions.com or http://www.iwasfalselyconvicted.com. Also, I have web blogs. blog.falseconvictions.com and the other one is blog.iwasfalselyconvicted.com. Click on the Victim Impact and Confession tabs and you will see some shocking evidence. But I have more than that. My attorney was working undercover for the prosecution. Please help me someone. It means more to me than you will ever know. I have done 100 percent of my sentence, however, I want my name cleared. Thanks,

    Steve

     
    • silverballwiz

      February 27, 2014 at 3:28 am

      I would like for anyone reading this to sign my petition and share it with a friend. We need to get the word out that a innocent man is being punished even after jail. His record needs to be cleared. My story is on http://www.falseconvictions.com and my petitions are under the petitions tab. Thanks for your suport.

       
  5. chicanogets113years

    September 22, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    so, what do we do? How do we make change within a governmental structure that seeks to keep the poor and middle class working people broken? No one will listen, so we keep getting oppressed. How do we connect with others to make a difference?

     
  6. silverballwiz

    December 22, 2013 at 5:23 am

    Wrongful Convictions happen every day in this country. It happened to me. My case involves children. Indecent Liberties with a Minor, with solid proof I am innocent. Check out my sites at http://www.wrongfullyaccuse.com, blog.falseconvictions.com,blog.iwasfalselyconvicted.com. This child apologized to me that he was sorry and his own mother made him lie, all captured on a audio tape. My lawyers and the prosecution hid it from the jury and to cover it all up with, they used a charge called Intimidation of a States Witness. I had nothing to do with the confession. My girlfriend just so happened to live behind the accusers. Check out my sites for the shocking story.

     
  7. Robert

    December 23, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    I am a law student in Indiana and I am wanting to be an advocate for the poor. I am a 1L going in to my second semester and I was wondering about any summer jobs you may have available to law students, such as myself, who are passionate about helping those who have been wrongfully convicted. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

     
  8. silverballwiz

    February 18, 2014 at 5:47 am

    I am advocate for the wrongfully convicted. I am a victim of the justice system myself. I was accused and convicted of Indecent Liberties with a Minor and Intimidation of a States Witness. The reason why I was charged with this is simple. The State wanted to cover up and my lawyer helped them. I want you to read my site at http://www.falseconvictions.com and sign my petitions. This case is a must read. I am in the process of trying to get my convictions overturned. Please sign my petition so I can get somewhere. You can go to my site above. Also there is a link to another one. It is http://www.justiceforstephen.com. Thanks.

    Stephen

     
  9. Grant Langdon

    May 22, 2014 at 5:29 am

    I owned a 380 acre farm in Copake N Y and had 3 barns burned by a serial arsonist. I told a reporter for the New York Times the Sheriff gave a lie detector test to a fireman sent to arson school and he flunked. He added they taught him how to do it. A week later my son was asked to identify a person, then took him in and forced a faults confession. At the grand jury they needed evidence to back up the confession. My son gave the fire truck driver a ride to the firehouse. Our barn was ion fire and clearly in site so he went right to the fire. The fire truck driver, a friend of the Sheriff, told the grand jury the only way he could have gone right to the fire was if he set it. It was a lie and proof of malicious arrest. When the DA discovered the lie he dropped the charges, but did not clear my son or go after the arsonist. As the fires continued my son was run out of town and at one point tried to take his life. The farm was lost and no damages were ever paid. Britain replaced the grand jury 80 years ago. If we fixed the system like Britain did the fire truck driver could have been cross examined and my son would not have been indicted. The grand jury of today is completely different from what it was. Today the DA controls the grand jury and it is a tool for the DA with a weak case. That is one reason for wrongful convictions. Because of the coverup my son never got to testify and was denied trial by jury in civil court under article 7 of the Bill of Rights. It is like the police owned the courts.

     
  10. anonymous

    August 1, 2014 at 12:11 am

    Illinois prisoner Paul Modrowski writes a blog about his life in prison and his ridiculous conviction: paulmodrowski.blogspot.com

     
  11. Sylvia sylvester

    August 15, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    There are so many people that feel they were wrongly convicted. Myself included. But it was 20 years ago now, and my thought is that we need to fight against plea bargains, and Lawyers being paid. If you don’t have money in this country, you can’t get a fair trial. If the case is a bit difficult, attorneys won’t take the case. Somehow that needs to be changed. Maybe both the defense and the prosecution lawyer should be in a lottery, you pull a number and you get what you get. The stupid/bar attorney would soon be thrown out. We have so many poor attorneys, out there just creaming the system for the fast buck, and they would be gone if they weren’t able to make big money fast. . . They are more guilty than their clients. The plea bargain has ruined the system. All cases should be taken to trial.
    So many of us are threatened with huge sentences, and then offered a small plea bargain that seems like the only thing to do when your lawyer wants hundreds of dollars an hour for his/her time. It seems the only way when you haven’t the money to pay for a lawyer. So a year is better than a trial with the possibility of losing and owing an attorney money you don’t have. . . and then you are automatically in the system as a felon, when in fact you never had a chance to prove your innocence. I know this goes on every day in every court room in the country. Land of the free, home of the brave.

     
  12. Luqman Abdurrahman

    January 20, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    I have a public record filed in the Michigan Court of Claims on me being abused as a crime victim. The Fraud on the Federal District Court, the Forgery of the Judgment of Sentence to Prison, the Forgery of the Warrant to Prison, Bank Fraud: the Fraudulent Check paid the Washtenaw County Sheriff. Please allow me to send OBJECTION OF LUQMAN ABDURRAHMAN BEING A CRIME VICTIM.

     
  13. Kyla Wilson

    March 9, 2017 at 11:52 pm

    I have a friend who was wrongfully imprisoned, served time for a crime he didn’t do for several years, and was exonerated. He is still suffering from this wrongful act to this day. We are seeking legal advice to file a lawsuit. Please let me know if you know of any law office or organization who can assist.

     
    • Advocates 4 Wrongfully Convicted (A4WC)

      March 10, 2017 at 12:00 am

      Kyla, We do not get involved in any law suits after the person’s wrongful conviction is over turned. If you are looking to file a law suit for compensation for his time spent in prison some some lawyers will take cases on a contingency bases (30-40% of the money awarded).

       

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