A broken criminal justice system benefits no one. When the system is defined by corruption, inconsistencies and dysfunction, the accused, victims and even prosecutors suffer undesirable consequences.
In recent years, it has become apparent that even strong criminal defense strategies cannot always keep those who have been wrongfully accused from facing convictions. Both in honor of those who have been wronged and in an effort to repair the integrity of the criminal justice system, law enforcement and prosecutors are increasingly making efforts to aid persons who have been wrongfully convicted.
Last year, 63 Americans wrongfully trapped in the criminal justice system were exonerated. Prosecutors and law enforcement aided or initiated over half of these successful exoneration cases. This percentage marks a highpoint in a trend that has been growing stronger over the past 25 to 30 years. During this time, law enforcement and prosecutors have initiated or aided in successful exonerations only 30 percent of the time on average. However, participation in these cases has jumped in recent years.
The editor of the National Registry of Exonerations recently explained that “We see a clear trend. This is as it should be. The purpose of law enforcement is to seek truth and pursue justice. I’m glad to see they are now doing so more often after conviction, to help correct some of the terrible mistakes we sometimes make.”
A well-functioning and just criminal legal system benefits everyone. Thankfully, law enforcement and prosecutors seem to be placing heightened emphasis on ensuring that the system is run with integrity, accuracy and justice for all.
Source: The National Law Journal, “Report: Police and prosecutors getting more involved in exonerations,” Karen Sloan, Apr. 3, 2013