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Convicting the Innocent: Sixty-Five Actual Errors of Criminal Justice (Classic Reprint)
by:Edwin Montefiore Borchard
Preface A THOUGH my major interests lie in an aspect of the law somewhat remote from criminal law, I have nevertheless long urged that the State or community assume the risks of official wrongdoing and error instead of permitting the losses resulting from such fault or mistake to be borne by the injured individual alone. A mong the most shocking of such...
Preface A THOUGH my major interests lie in an aspect of the law somewhat remote from criminal law, I have nevertheless long urged that the State or community assume the risks of official wrongdoing and error instead of permitting the losses resulting from such fault or mistake to be borne by the injured individual alone. A mong the most shocking of such injuries and most glaring of injustices are erroneous criminal convictions of innocent people. The State must necessarily prosecute persons legitimately suspected of crime; but when it is discovered after conviction that the wrong man was condemned, the least the State can do to right this essentially irreparable injury is to reimburse the innocent victim, by an appropriate indemnity, for the loss and damage suffered. European countries have long recognized that such indemnity is a public obligation. Federal and state governments in the United States ought to adopt the same policy, instead of merely releasing the innocent prisoner from custody by pardoning him for a crime he never committed and without any admission of error or public vindication of his character. A district attorney in Worcester County, Massachusetts, a few years ago is reported to have said: Innocent men are never convicted. Don tworry about it, it never happens in the world. It is a physical impossibility. The present collection of sixty-five cases, which have been selected from a much larger number, is a refutation of this supposition. Inasmuch as the conditions described are of interest primarily to the American public, American cases, mainly from the twentieth century, have, for the most part,1 been chosen for publication. Fifty cases, by reason of their importance or some striking characteristic, have been used as principal cases; the other fifteen, more concisely reported, follow thereafter. Together, they present an interesting cross(Typographical errors above are due to OCR software and don't occur in the book.)
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