Tragic Consequences of Deadly Dilemmas: A Response to Allen and Laudan
32 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2009 Last revised: 23 Nov 2009
Date Written: July 18, 2009
In a recent article in the Texas Tech Law Review entitled Deadly Dilemmas, Ronald Allen and Larry Laudan make a number of claims about the performance of the criminal justice system. On an empirical level, they assert that by using data developed in earlier articles by me and by Brandon Garrett, they can establish that (taking pleas into account) fewer than 1% of those convicted of 'violent crimes' are factually innocent. On a broader normative level, they claim that many observers of the criminal justice system worry too much about the problem of inaccurate convictions, and not enough about the problem of inaccurate acquittals. They further assert that, based on the relative risks to the average individual of being a crime victim vs. being wrongfully convicted of a crime, 'the social contract' requires that more attention be paid to reforms reducing the number of acquittals of the guilty, including potentially adjustments to the criminal standard of proof. This article examines (and disputes) those claims in detail.
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