The Truth About False Confessions

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Double Trouble
 
I recently posted about a New York Times op-ed which claims that the justice system is far more afflicted by the wrongly freed than the wrongly convicted. The very notion rests on a false dichotomy. When someone is wrongly convicted, typically the real culprit remains at large. This is one of the collateral costs of the tragedy of false confessions.
 
8:36 am est

Friday, April 25, 2008

Wrongly Freed
 
A recent op-ed in the New York Times, strangely titled The Wrongfully Exonerated, argues that far too much is made out of wrongful convictions since the rate is probably less than 1%. The author, a district attorney, concludes that "The real risk to most Americans are the wrongfully freed, not the wrongfully convicted."  However, no statistics are given about the rate of "wrongfully freed," nor any reason to believe that the problem is widespread. The author would have us believe that the Innocence Project and others who labor to free the wrongly convicted are a threat to justice in America. Those of us in the false confessions business know better.
1:32 pm est

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Death And Innocence
 
Today the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of capital punishment via lethal injection. Such peripheral challenges to the death penalty, while understandable, deflect attention from the biggest problem: the inevitable execution of some innocent persons. We've learned that false confessions are surprisingly prevalent, but they are hardly the only basis of wrongful conviction. And the reality of wrongful convictions should produce a consensus against the death penalty.
 
2:13 pm est

Monday, April 7, 2008

More Kafka
 
A few years ago I posted about the Kafkaesque case of Walter Ogrod, a probable false confessor who was about to be acquitted when a juror blurted out that he disagreed with the verdict. The judge declared a mistrial, and in a subsequent trial Ogrod was convicted based on the testimony of a notoriously unreliable jailhouse snitch. I recently received a message from a man who writes: "I'll give you even more Kafkaesque. I was the original 12th juror in the first trial. I too believe he was not guilty. I was relieved from the trial because of a family crisis. The man who replaced me is the one" who caused the mistrial.
  
8:25 am est


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