Wrongful convictions have been a lasting problem in our criminal justice system. The situations vary from case to case and sometimes a person can be falsely convicted on purpose. It is important to know what the leading causes of this act are and how wrongful convictions can affect the imprisoned.
- Misidentification by eyewitnesses: This seems to be the leading cause that places innocent people in prison. It is scientifically proven that our mind does not recall past events like a camera. It is flawed and we perceive things through our own perspective, which generally is very subjective. Asking an eyewitness to recall what happened cannot always be trusted.
- False confessions: In many instances, people give incriminating statements that might affect the victim’s innocence. Sometimes, these false confessions can be with the intent to hurt the defendant or not.
- Misuse of science: Many forensic teams have relied heavily on methods that have not been scientifically approved, yet they rely on their findings to make their judgements.
- Government misconduct: This occurs when the government ensures that the victim gets convicted even when he or she is innocent.
- Snitching: A snitch might be paid off to provide a testimony that might affect the victim.
- Bad lawyering: Simply put, the defendant’s attorney does a terrible job representing his or her client.
How it affects the victims:
For many, the victim enters an alarming psychological state that can cause severe stress and even trauma. There is a sense of guilt that many victims undergo, and a lot of that guilt is fed by the media attention by constantly reporting the case, taking pictures of the victim, requesting interviews and invading their personal space.
A lot of anger, fear and pain seems to bubble up since they have a hard time coping with the life that was taken from them by the court system. This takes a toll in their mental health and many have suffered from depression and helplessness. It usually takes time for the victims to find their peace and move on from what happened to them and this is typically attained by the help of NGOs or other institutions that protect the rights of the wrongfully convicted.