Although the criminal justice system punishes those who have committed crimes against society, there are still flaws in the system that send innocent people to prison. Actual Innocence by Barry Scheck, Peter Neufeld, and Jim Dwyer, focuses on those problems connected to the incarceration of innocent people, as well as those who have been convicted and were ultimately exonerated. Confessions and racism are two major issues that are described in Actual Innocence that explain how these problems occur in our criminal justice system today and how innocent people are convicted of crimes.
Robert Miller, at the time of this book, was a twenty-seven year old unemployed black man. He was also a regular user of drugs, and he lived in the Military Park section in Oklahoma City. There had been two murders of elderly women that occurred within a few months of each other, and when police were investigating these two murders, they questioned a total of 173 black men, as well as many others within the neighborhood. Of these 173 black men, Robert Miller was one of twenty-three to give blood, and the results showed that he was the only with A+ blood type.
In February of 1987, Miller was asked by police to help them, and even though he felt unwell due to his regular use of drugs and the assumption that someone else had slipped PCP into something that he had ingested, he agreed to help them. Miller rode to the police station and then was lead to an interview room by one of the detectives. Miller told the detectives that he had “powers” and that he could “see things through the killer’s eyes”. This prompted the detective performing the interrogation to make sure that the interrogation session was being recorded. After twelve hours of interrogation, hallucinations, and even exorcism, the detectives decided that Robert Miller was their man. Soon after, the District Attorney of Oklahoma City decided to file for capital murder charges against Miller. Even though Miller never actually admitted to the crime, the prosecutor stated that he knew inside details and points that would only be known to the killer.
Three Negroid hairs were found at the crime scene, and were supposedly found consistent with Robert Miller’s hair. Miller’s A+ blood type also matched the blood type found in the rapist’s semen. He denied having anything to do with the crimes, and the information he told police during the interrogation about the crimes only came from simple rumors that he had picked up around the neighborhood.
Miller was tried by an all-white jury. In the days running up to the trial, an Oklahoma television station did a poll on the Miller case. Before the evidence from the case had been presented, sixty-eight percent of viewers had voted that Miller was guilty. The jury ultimately found Miller guilty of two murders, two rapes, two burglaries, and one attempted burglary. Miller was sentenced to two death penalties plus 725 years. His interrogation that lasted twelve hours,...