Protecting the Guilty in the Age of Innocence
30 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2019
Date Written: July 31, 2019
We live in a modern "Age of Innocence", in which concerns about factual innocence dominate the conversation about criminal justice. Alongside the growth of law clinics and policy reforms centered on innocence, innocence-focused media has exploded in popularity over the last thirty years. Concurrent with this narrative shift, courts have curtailed appellate review of criminal convictions, except in cases of so-called "actual innocence." The focus on innocence has led to important criminal justice reforms, but too little attention has been paid to the costs of such a focus. In this paper, I spell out the potential downsides of innocentrism.
Keywords: criminal justice, innocence, psychology, harmless error, actual innocence, due process
JEL Classification: K14
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