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Wrongful Convictions: The Latest Scientific Research and Implications for Law Enforcement

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2013
13 pages
This is the video and transcript of two presentations on the latest scientific research on wrongful convictions and implications for law enforcement, which were delivered at the Research for the Real World Seminar (March 25, 2013).
The first presentation reports on the results of a 3-year project that used empirical methods and a control group to identify factors in wrongful convictions. In the wrongful convictions examined, false confessions were involved in 22 percent of the cases, and they were present in 29 percent of the "near miss" cases (cases dismissed or defendants were acquitted). There was eyewitness error in 83 percent of wrongful convictions and 75 percent of "near misses." The second presenter is with the Research Division of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. He identifies features in an investigation that can reduce the likelihood of erroneous convictions. One important component of an investigation is the use of a checklist to guide a thorough investigation. This is important in ensuring that all avenues of evidence collection and analysis have been pursued and that the various team members have performed their duties. The team must assess each piece of evidence in terms of its reliability and persuasive power in relation to the identification of the offender. Openness to new information that may change the weight of the evidence is also important in an investigation. Alternative interpretations of the available evidence must also be tested.

Date Published: March 1, 2013