This report summarizes the discussions of experts assembled in mid-September 2010 to discuss international practice on wrongful convictions and research items for preventing and correcting wrongful convictions.
The purpose of the workshop was to hear about how other countries, as well as States and counties in the United States, are handling wrongful convictions, as well as to determine possible best practices that could be adapted for the U.S. system to prevent and correct wrongful convictions. The workshop discussed different legal systems with a view toward considering issues of whether particular legal systems invite wrongful convictions and whether there are inherent aspects of certain legal systems (adversarial versus inquisitorial) that allow for wrongful convictions. The workshop also considered the impact of political elections for the judiciary and other public officials on wrongful convictions. Another issue focused on the types of criminal justice systems and the impact of two models on wrongful convictions: the due process model, which ensures that a citizen has absolute rights that the State cannot violate; and the crime-control model, which advocates that the state should do whatever it can within its power to prevent and punish crime. The group acknowledged problems with research on wrongful convictions, because it is difficult to recognize a wrongful conviction immediately after it occurs. It also discussed possible solutions for measuring the effects of reforms designed to prevent wrongful convictions. Other issues discussed in examining criminal justice processing features that increase the risk for wrongful convictions pertain to police procedures and investigations; forensics; arrest and convictions; the role of attorneys, trials, and evidence; appeals and innocence commissions; and post-exoneration practices. A research agenda focuses on the transferability of international practices and research ideas. Appended workshop agenda, participant list, and participant provided case studies
Date Published: September 1, 2010