NAS-Published Study Suggests 4.1% of Those Sentenced to Death in the U.S. Are Falsely Convicted

  • WrestlerBoy

    Posts: 1903

    Apr 29, 2014 4:04 PM GMT
    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/04/23/1306417111

    From the précis on the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America website:

    (Note: "Survival analysis" is a very accurate branch of statistics, most often used in medicine and biology)


    "Significance

    The rate of erroneous conviction of innocent criminal defendants is often described as not merely unknown but unknowable. We use survival analysis to model this effect, and estimate that if all death-sentenced defendants remained under sentence of death indefinitely at least 4.1% would be exonerated. We conclude that this is a conservative estimate of the proportion of false conviction among death sentences in the United States."

    "Abstract
    The rate of erroneous conviction of innocent criminal defendants is often described as not merely unknown but unknowable. There is no systematic method to determine the accuracy of a criminal conviction; if there were, these errors would not occur in the first place. As a result, very few false convictions are ever discovered, and those that are discovered are not representative of the group as a whole. In the United States, however, a high proportion of false convictions that do come to light and produce exonerations are concentrated among the tiny minority of cases in which defendants are sentenced to death. This makes it possible to use data on death row exonerations to estimate the overall rate of false conviction among death sentences. The high rate of exoneration among death-sentenced defendants appears to be driven by the threat of execution, but most death-sentenced defendants are removed from death row and resentenced to life imprisonment, after which the likelihood of exoneration drops sharply. We use survival analysis to model this effect, and estimate that if all death-sentenced defendants remained under sentence of death indefinitely, at least 4.1% would be exonerated. We conclude that this is a conservative estimate of the proportion of false conviction among death sentences in the United States."
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    Apr 29, 2014 5:44 PM GMT
    heck of a way to go out, knowing your not guilty.
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    Apr 29, 2014 6:59 PM GMT
    From what I have seen of the criminal justice system, I have no confidence in the death penalty.
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    Apr 29, 2014 7:24 PM GMT
    muscletussle saidFrom what I have seen of the criminal justice system, I have no confidence in the death penalty.

    +1
  • WrestlerBoy

    Posts: 1903

    Apr 29, 2014 9:47 PM GMT
    From the study:

    (1) "However, no process of removing potentially innocent defendants from the execution queue can be foolproof. With an error rate at trial over 4%, it is all but certain that several of the 1,320 defendants executed since 1977 were innocent (21)."

    (2) "We do know that the rate of error among death sentences is far greater than Justice Scalia’s reassuring 0.027% (6). That much is apparent directly from the number of death row exonerations that have already occurred."


    (3) "Our research adds the disturbing news that most innocent defendants who have been sentenced to death have not been exonerated, and many— including the great majority of those who have been resentenced to life in prison probably never will be."

    The researchers estimate that, since 1977, the number of people wrongfully put to death in the United States is "fewer than 50." But the scariest finding of all (maybe, unless you were one of those "fewer than 50") is this:

    (4) "It follows that the rate of innocence must be higher for convicted capital defendants who are not sentenced to death than for those who are. The net result is that the great majority of innocent defendants who are convicted of capital murder in the United States are neither executed nor exonerated. They are sentenced, or resentenced to prison for life, and then forgotten."