11 June 2007

Wrongful Conviction Rates

My criminal procedure professor evaluates wrongful conviction rates for the Wall Street Journal. The best evidence puts the wrongful conviction rate for serious felonies at 2.3% to 3.3% (one source says 7% but it has far too small a sample size to be reliable). He points out clear statistical goofs of Oregon prosecutor Joshua Marquis (.027%) and Colorado District Judge Morris B. Hoffman (.065%).

Is 96.7% to 97.7% good enough? Maybe not: "If as few as 1% of criminal convictions are erroneous, right now there are more than 20,000 innocent defendants behind bars."

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