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Wrongful Conviction: Perceptions of Criminal Justice Professionals Regarding the Frequency of Wrongful Conviction and the Extent of System Errors

NCJ Number
Crime & Delinquency Volume: 53 Issue: 3 Dated: July 2006 Pages: 436-470
Robert J. Ramsey; James Frank
Date Published
July 2007
35 pages
This study examined the frequency of wrongful convictions within the criminal justice system.
Drawing on a sample of 798 Ohio criminal justice professionals (police, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges), the authors examine respondents' perceptions regarding the frequency of system errors (i.e., professional error and misconduct suggested by previous research to be associated with wrongful conviction), and wrongful felony conviction. Results indicate that respondents perceive system errors to occur more than infrequently but less than moderately frequent. Respondents also perceive that wrongful felony conviction occurs in their own jurisdictions in .5 percent to 1 percent of all felony cases, and in the United States in 1 percent to 3 percent of all felony cases. Respondents, however, specify an acceptable rate of wrongful conviction to be less than .5 percent. Findings thus indicate that criminal justice professionals perceive an unacceptable frequency of wrongful conviction and associated system errors and suggest that programs aimed at reducing system errors and improving professional conduct would be broadly accepted among criminal justice professionals. (Published Abstract) Tables, figure, notes, and references