Bad math in court is something that happens over and over again and because of it, many innocent victims have been jailed and punished unjustly over the years. The problem is not some sort of miscalculation, but the refusal of the court to recalculate. More than often enough, the judge refuses to reexamine the collected DNA in an investigation case. What the people of the court fail to realize at times is that probability is not a one off thing, it is something that should be repeated at least more than once and can even be repeated over and over again. The flipping of a coin is frequently used to explain this logic and will be explained in following paragraphs. Sometimes statistician will state that there is only a one in a million chance (or some other ludicrously large number) that the defendant is innocent; but then they fail to examine: what is that 1, what are the chances that the accused that that one in a million? In this paper, I will be discussing the issue of ‘bad math in court,’ why it happens and how something as simple as probability can get innocent people out of jail.
I chose to explore the idea of bad math in court’ because ever since I was a child, my mother always said to me: “No matter what you choose to do in life, it’ll always require mathematics.” She said this as a way to encourage me to take my math classes more seriously (and it worked!) When watching an episode of criminal minds, my mom’s saying came into mind and I was left wondering if what my mom said was true. Once my teacher introduced this Math IA project, I took it as the perfect opportunity for me to explore an issue that had been bugging me for a while, which was: Math in Court. However, when I was doing a little but of background information on the topic to see if it had enough information for me to write a paper on it I was struck by what I found. Coming from an actively based political family, I make it a responsibility of mine to keep up with World Wide news. I have watched and kept up with numerous court cases and trials. A few that stuck out to me over the last few years was Sally Clark’s and Amanda Knox’s court cases. What was so intriguing about theirs was the fact that although they were accused and eventually jailed for murder, after a couple of years they were let free by the court because of incorrect statistics that had been used during their trial. I found it quite odd that something as simple as statistics could be misused and ultimately, disregarded. Soon enough I forgot about these cases, but imagine my surprise, a few years later, when the very subject I am researching, is directly connected to those fascinating and mind-boggling cases.
The first case that I will be exploring is one that took the world by storm back in 2007: Amanda Knox.
“A British exchange student, Meredith Kercher, was found stabbed to death at the house she shared in Perugia, Italy, in November 2007. Kercher's housemate, Amanda Knox, and her boyfriend, Raffaele...