U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Wrongful convictions

Expanding Research to Examine the Impacts of Forensic Science on the Criminal Justice System

December 2020

In 2004, the National Institute of Justice created the social science research on forensic sciences (SSRFS) research program to explore the impact of forensic sciences on the criminal justice system and the administration of justice. Much of the early research from the SSRFS program focused on DNA processing and the use of DNA in investigations and prosecutions.

Just Science Podcast: Just the Innocence Project

Date Published
February 2020
Publication Type
Report (Technical Assistance), Report (Grant Sponsored), Program/Project Description, Interview, Instructional Material (Programmed)
Agencies
NIJ-Sponsored

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

March 2013

What does science tell us about case factors that can lead to a wrongful conviction? Dr. Jon Gould of American University will discuss the findings of the first large-scale empirical study that has identified ten statistically significant factors that distinguish a wrongful conviction from a "near miss." (A "near miss" is a case in which an innocent defendant was acquitted or had charges dismissed before trial). Following Dr. Gould's presentation, Mr. John R.

NIJ Journal Issue No. 279

Date Published
April 2018
Publication Type
Technical Assistance, Program/Project Description, Instructional Material
Agencies
NIJ

Just Wrong: The Aftermath of Wrongful Convictions

October 2017

The strength of our criminal justice system depends on its ability to convict the guilty and clear the innocent. But we know that innocent people are sometimes wrongfully convicted and the guilty remain free to victimize others. The consequences of a wrongful conviction are far-reaching for the wrongfully convicted and the survivors and victims of the original crimes. 

"Sentinel Event" Review in the Criminal Justice System

January 2014

Listen to James Doyle discuss the basics of a "sentinel event" review in the criminal justice system. This learning-from-error approach borrows from principles that medicine, aviation and other high-risk enterprises have successfully used. Former NIJ Fellow Doyle offers the basics to understand this innovative idea that takes a system-wide perspective of error, bringing all stakeholders together in a non-blaming, forward-looking way after a bad outcome, such as a wrongful conviction, occurs.

Wrongful Convictions

The strength of our criminal justice system depends on its accuracy — its ability to convict the guilty and to clear the innocent. But we know that wrongful convictions happen. Identifying and understanding the causes of wrongful convictions is critical to maintaining the integrity of our justice system.

A conviction may be classified as wrongful for two reasons: