New York Study Finds Human Error in Wrongful Convictions


A report released Friday by the New York State Bar Association found errors by prosecutors, judges and law enforcement among the leading cause of wrongful convictions in the state. The study examined 53 cases in which wrongful convictions were overturned on appeal by new evidence – some involving DNA testing – and found that most involved some form of human error, from eyewitness misidentification to problems with forensic handling to the reliance on false confessions.

“If you were manufacturing widgets, and 53 widgets were defective, it would be acceptable,” said Barry M. Kamins, a Criminal Court judge in Manhattan who was the chair of the state bar association task force that prepared the report. “If you’re dealing in human lives, and 53 people are innocent and serving time for crimes they didn’t commit, that is unacceptable. One is too many, and 53 in New York is unacceptable.”

Read the full story here

. (New York Times, 01/31/09)

In late 2007, the Innocence Project released a report on the first 23 DNA exonerations in the state, entitled “

Lessons Not Learned

.” The 118-page report details the 23 wrongful convictions overturned by DNA testing in the state as of that time – analyzing their causes and calling for reforms to improve the state’s criminal justice system.

Read about the 24 DNA exonerees in New York




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