The Innocent Can Still Be Found Guilty

  • Mario Alvarez Chavez San Francisco State University Criminal Justice
Keywords: wrongful convictions, evidence, racial biases, eyewitness, policy, exonerate, racial stereotypes


Wrongful convictions target specific groups of people within society in the U.S. The criminal justice and court systems are heavily influenced by the racial biases that surround their integral processes when it comes to convicting citizens of their accused crimes. African American men are heavily targeted when it comes to being convicted of a violent crime that they did not commit, when compared to that of white males. These racial biases can be viewed through careful observation of prior research and shows how these biases have been ingrained within the training police officers undergo. It is also evident that these biases are seemingly present in the minds of victims of violent crimes. As racial stereotypes obscure their sense of judgment when it comes to identifying the perpetrator of the crime from a group of people in a lineup. A lineup is a method of identification that is used in order to help victims identify the offender from a group of people who have been arrested and match a similar description. Statistics on the groups of people that are wrongfully convicted are analyzed, as well as cases that involve the use of different kinds of evidence which have led to wrongful convictions. The systems in place that are meant to fairly convict offenders of their crimes are heavily flawed and outdated as statistics clearly outline the margins of error included within every wrongful conviction that is made. These findings may also suggest which racial group is targeted the most when it comes to being wrongfully convicted as a result of errors created from these flawed systems. Changes in policies such as making it mandatory for investigators to film interrogation, could reduce the rate of wrongful convictions. However, the enforcement of policy changes can be ignored by those in power, in order to reap the underlying benefits that come with a wrongful conviction.

Key Words: wrongful convictions, evidence, racial biases, eyewitness, policy, exonerate, racial stereotypes