Is There Hope For Preventing Wrongful Convictions in America?
The United States has what you might call a fascination with the concept of wrongful conviction; especially at the moment, what with all of the various true crime series such as Serial, Making a Murderer, The Murder of Laci Peterson, and others.
In our everyday real lives, however, wrongful conviction is a serious issue in a criminal justice system that rewards prosecutors based on conviction rates and never seems to hold police accountable for the indiscriminate killing of black men.
Much-Needed Criminal Justice Reform
Even prosecutors such as Marilyn Mosby (Baltimore) who have brought charges against police officers involved in police brutality have admonished that our system needs a major overhaul if anyone is to be held accountable; reform that, at a very minimum, requires the involvement of an independent agency investigation.
Making substantive reforms to the criminal justice system would not only involve ending mandatory minimums, reforming cash bail, overturning wrongful convictions, ending the use of the death penalty, and creating diversion programs for drug offenses, but also completely altering the role of the prosecutor within the system. Prosecutors work with police to secure convictions; therefore, tasking prosecutors with charging police with misconduct inherently involves a conflict of interest because, without the cooperation of the police, prosecutors cannot obtain the evidence they need to get convictions, and thus cannot operate successfully as prosecutors in our current criminal justice system. What the justice system truly needs is a completely different reward system—one that rewards prosecutors based on justice, not conviction rates.
There are those that are already trying to make much-needed changes, such as Orlando prosecutor Aramis Ayala, who made a pledge to no longer seek the death penalty. Still, there are others who have made visible efforts to stymie these attempts, such as Governor Rick Scott, who removed Ayala from all capital murder cases as a result of her pledge. Consequently, Ayala had to rescind her promise, and instead, left the decision to pursue capital punishment up to a panel of assistant state attorneys.
Compensating Those Wrongfully Convicted In Florida
By law, anyone who is found to have been wrongfully incarcerated is entitled to monetary compensation. In July, Governor Rick Scott signed into law a bill relaxing the criteria for compensating those who have been wrongfully convicted and incarcerated, modifying a provision of the Victims of Wrongful Incarceration Compensation Act that previously allowed the state to get out of financial compensation for wrongful prosecutions if an exoneree had another, unrelated felony conviction on their record.
Florida and Massachusetts Civil Rights Attorneys
The United States’ obsession with stories of wrongful convictions stems from the fact that innocent people are wrongfully convicted in our system every day. Misidentification by eyewitnesses, false confessions, bogus forensic evidence, and paid informants all contribute to the problem.
Working with experienced legal representation in your criminal defense and/or during your appeal is key to avoiding wrongful convictions. The Baez Law Firm has all of the experience necessary to overturn a wrongful conviction. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.