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Exonerating Wrongly Convicted People Essay

2187 words - 9 pages

Criminal Law declares what conduct is illegal and proscribes a penalty. Although, we rely on our court system to administer justice, sometimes the innocent are convicted (Risinger). Most people would not be able to imagine a person who is convicted of a crime as innocent, sometimes that is the case. Imagine what a variance that is: an innocent criminal. In an article by Radley Balko he asks the question, “How many more are innocent?” In his article, he questions America’s 250th DNA exoneration and states that it raises questions about how often we send the wrong person to prison. The other issue that follows is the means of appealing the court’s decision and who they can turn to for help.
In the textbook Criminal Courts 2nd edition, it states that “appeals of any kind, especially death penalty appeals, consume a great deal time. On the average, it takes about ten or eleven years for inmates to be executed. In some instances, the appeals process has dragged out over a fifteen year period.” The number of years it takes for an appeal seems excessive when thinking about an innocent person serving time for a crime they did not commit. Although one would want the appeals process to be speedy, that is not the case when considering the steps involved. The appeals process begins once the defendant has been convicted of a crime. The defendant is entitled to at least one appeal to a higher court. The primary purpose of an appeal is to correct a wrong that may have been committed. These wrongs may be mistakes by police, the prosecution, or the court. Errors may have occurred that influence the trial outcome. Appeals are intended to correct these mistakes and errors. A secondary purpose of an appeal is to render judgment about one or more issues that will influence future cases. The appeals process has strict deadlines enforced as to the number of days within which an appeal must be filed. (Courts and Procedures: Civil Procedure) Being able to file an appeal is extremely crucial for those inmates who are wrongfully convicted. The appeals process gives them the opportunity to be exonerated if their innocence is proven to be the case. Even though the right to appeal is the inmates right, some people are not familiar with the steps needed to come out with a verdict they will be content with. In this instance the Innocence Project would be the inmate’s number one recourse.
The Innocence Project has a worldwide website that describes their history and purpose. The website describes the Innocence Project as “a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice” (Innocence Project). In an article by Benjamin Fleury-Steiner it states that the Innocence Project is a nonprofit legal clinic that originally conferred only on cases where post conviction DNA testing of evidence could demonstrate an individual’s innocence. The...

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