Wrongful Convictions: A Comparative Perspective
45 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2017
Date Written: May 4, 2016
Wrongful conviction becomes a social problem when innocence consciousness arises, meaning that a significant number of people view miscarriages of justice as caused by correctible systemic factors, and not as inevitable failures of courts. The term “wrongful conviction” encompasses procedurally flawed court convictions and the convictions of factually innocent defendants (i.e., false convictions). There is no definitive way to measure the incidence of false convictions, but American experts estimate plausible rates of from 1 to 3 percent, which translates to tens of thousands falsely convicted each year. Three case studies — the United States, England, and China — demonstrate that innocence consciousness occurred at different times, subject to different social stimuli, leading to different citizen and governmental responses in each country. Wrongful convictions are now viewed as a social problem globally. Wrongful conviction research, conducted mostly by psychologists and lawyers, would benefit from studies by social scientists.
Keywords: Wrongful Conviction, Innocence Movement, Comparative
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