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St. Louis Criminal Defense Law Blog

Friday, April 22, 2016

Actual Innocence

            I am proud to support the Midwest Innocence Project and their work to obtain the exoneration and release of wrongfully convicted people in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and Arkansas.  And this week, I had the opportunity to attend their Faces of Innocence program, where the keynote speaker was Jarrett Adams, who served almost 10 years in prison for a sexual assault he did not commit and later became an attorney.  The Master of Ceremonies was Brian Banks, who served five years for a sexual assault he did not commit and later became an NFL football player, although his career was likely much shorter than it would have been had he not spent five years in prison.  Special guests included Floyd Bledsoe, who was exonerated on December 8, 2015 – 15 years after being wrongfully convicted of murder in Kansas

             Many people still think that wrongful convictions are impossible, that if a jury concluded a defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, then the defendant was guilty.  And why would law enforcement, a prosecutor, or a judge send an innocent person to prison anyway? 

             But this has been changing lately.  First it was Season One of the wildly popular podcast Serial, which, over the course of 12 episodes, details the story of Adnan Syed, who is still in prison today for a murder he likely did not commit.  And then came the Netflix documentary Making a Murderer, which tells the horrifying story of Steven Avery, who was wrongfully convicted of sexual assault in 1985, served 18 years, and was exonerated – only to be convicted in 2007 for a murder he likely did not commit either. The Midwest innocence Project is working on that case too. 

             The reality is that, when you start looking for wrongful convictions, they are not hard to find, as a record 149 people were exonerated in 2015 alone.  Those 149 people spent an average of 15 years in prison before being cleared.  Recent independent studies conservatively estimate that between 2% and 5% of all inmates in America were falsely convicted.  The National Registry of Exonerations has now confirmed more than 1,600 exonerations.

How can someone be convicted of a crime he or she did not commit?  False confessions, eyewitness misidentification, junk science, jailhouse snitches, and official misconduct -- these are the big five reasons why innocent people get sent to prison.

  If you or a loved one find yourself accused of a crime you did not commit, you need a criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the ways an innocent person can be convicted of a crime.  Call St. Louis-based criminal defense lawyer W. Scott Rose today at (314) 812-4700 to discuss your case.  I am a criminal defense lawyer handling cases in St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Jefferson County, and St. Louis City.



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