"Failing the DNA Test," Michael Blanding and Lindsay Markel, November 20, 2011, The Boston Globe Magazine
WBUR's Radio Boston hosts talk with Schuster Senior Fellow Michael Blanding about DNA testing for prisoners in Massachusetts
- Post-conviction DNA testing in Massachusetts: "Failing the Test"
- Waiting for DNA: More about Massachusetts prisoners claiming innocence who are featured in the article
- Exonerated by DNA: Massachusetts wrongful convictions overturned
- Background: A primer on the Massachusetts DNA access bill
- Underlying issue: No law requiring preservation of crime scene evidence
- Digging deeper: What do exonerations teach us about the criminal justice system?
- Non-DNA cases: What happens if there is no DNA to test?
How do wrongful convictions occur?
- Eyewitness misidentification
- Faulty forensics, or bad science
- False confessions<
- Informants and "snitches"
- Bad lawyering or representation in court
- Misconduct by prosecutors or law enforcement
Causes of Wrongful Convictions:
False confessions may be one of the most confusing of all the primary contributors to wrongful convictions because it involves self-indictment. Innocent persons, however, have been known to falsely confess to crimes they did not commit. False confessions can happen under certain circumstances, when police interrogation tactics are physically or mentally tortuous, exhausting, or seemingly never-ending, when they confuse the defendant, or suggest to the defendant that he or she “did it” using “what if” scenarios.
An innocent defendant may make a false confession due to mental impairment, disability, or instability, intoxication or drug use, fear of violence, actual violence, threat of a long prison sentence, ignorance of the law, and misunderstanding.
The interactive graphic above is a joint project between the Innocence Project and Brandon Garrett, author of "Convicting the Innocent."Last page update: November 18, 2011
© 2011-2013 Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, Waltham, MA. All rights reserved.