Part VII asks whether a decline in the death penalty will lessen the intense desire that accompanies efforts to exonerate prisoners on death row, whether a potential decline in DNA exonerations
will breed complacency, and whether the virtual impossibility of measuring large-scale decline of wrongful convictions will lessen the reformist zeal that animates the innocence movement.
85) For example, Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck, the co-founders of the Innocence Project, began to argue in the earliest days of the DNA exonerations
that a review function modeled on the National Transportation Safety Board was needed.
It is possible that there may be something unique about a DNA exoneration
compared to a non-DNA exoneration
In tandem with DNA exonerations
, and probably to some extent because of them, this same time period has also witnessed the exoneration of hundreds of additional prisoners as a result of witness recantations, the exposure of investigatory misconduct, and the like.
As evidence of the culture of the Alabama criminal justice system, one needs to look only at the state's reaction to the two DNA exonerations
that have taken place there.
46) To begin, we know that the error rate in guilty plea cases is far from de minimis; twenty-two of the first 265 DNA exoneration
cases were guilty plea cases.
12) There are still those who take issue with the reliability even of the DNA exoneration
cases as cases of established factual innocence.
16) Misidentifications contributed to the convictions in approximately three-fourths (76%) of the first 250 DNA exonerations
, (17) and about one-half of death row exonerations.
1) Rob Warden, Center on Wrongful Convictions, The Rape That Wasn't: The First DNA Exoneration
in Illinois, available at http://www.
39) It is clear, though, that the sort of innocence that has captured popular and political attention is "pure" innocence, with DNA exonerations
serving as the paradigm of "erroneous" convictions.
already a media sensation, Dotson's DNA exoneration
would not be
When the DNA exoneration
cases started rolling in several years ago, the first very clear signal--you couldn't miss it because it was almost unanimous in the first thirty or forty cases--is that the most common source of error is the eyewitness mistake.
Dupree that he, as well, was innocent of the crimes and needed legal representation from an attorney or entity familiar with the DNA exoneration
EYEWITNESS MISIDENTIFICATION was a factor in 70% of post-conviction DNA exoneration
The DNA exoneration
cases in the 1990s and 2000s, of course, would radically change this perception.