A Damning Cascade of Investigative Errors: Flaws in Homicide Investigation in the USA
Fiona Bookman & Ed Maguire, eds., The Handbook on Homicide, Wiley-Blackwell, 2016, Forthcoming
48 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2015 Last revised: 25 Jan 2016
Date Written: November 1, 2015
This chapter explores the investigative errors, prosecutorial misconduct, and flawed police procedures that are often the cause of wrongful convictions in the United States. The authors discuss the difficulty of the criminal investigative process and the inevitable infusion of bias during investigations, giving specific examples of the cognitive and motivational biases that may permeate both investigations and trials. The authors argue that judgment about specific evidence is both shaped by, and itself shapes, judgments of other evidence, which may lead to an escalation of errors during the course of an investigation. In order to reduce these procedural errors, the United States must consider certain reforms, such as removing forensic testing units from police departments, prohibiting the introduction of trial evidence based on invalid or untested forensic methods, and reforming the interrogation process.
Keywords: criminal law, criminal procedure, wrongful convictions, interrogation, prosecutorial misconduct, criminal investigation, forensic science, forensic testing
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