In your opinion, what would be the most effective way to lower the number of wrongful convictions? Provide two supporting facts.

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Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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First, there should be jury instruction that makes clear that eyewitness testimony should not be accorded the weight it is given in convictions historically or presently.  Research makes clear that eyewitness testimony is quite unreliable. Many studies have shown it to be just plain wrong somewhere between one third and one half of the time.  People truly do not understand what a serious problem this is in our justice system. 

Second, since the overwhelming number of convictions are against racial and ethnic minorities, more racially balanced juries would be more likely to result in fewer erroneous convictions.  Statistics suggest that white juries convict African Americans, for instance, 16% more often than white defendants.  This means that minorities suffer more from wrongful convictions than white people do, so this would make quite a dent in the problem.

Third, we are living in an era in which there is more scientific evidence available than ever before, to support or not support a conviction, yet we are reluctant to spend more money to make these resources available for investigation.  Police departments all over the country have had to throw away their rape kits, for example, because they were too degraded to be of use.  This is evidence that can either lead to a proper conviction or is exculpatory evidence that can prevent a wrongful conviction. There are plenty of examples of situations in which the police do not have the money, resources, or time to avail themselves of what they need to either convict properly or to at the very least not convict wrongfully. 

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