Report looks at reasons for wrongful convictions

People in Michigan who are convicted of crimes they did not commit and then are later exonerated might be the victims of official misconduct. According to a report by the National Registry for Exonerations, it was a factor in at least 107 of the 151 exonerations that happened in 2018.

A number of exonerations are occurring in the Chicago area, where people who refused to pay extortion demands to law enforcement officers were planted with drugs. This brought the number of exonerations in the state to nearly 50. There were 54 exonerations of people charged in homicide cases in 2018, and in 80 percent of those cases, official misconduct was involved. False confessions are another issue. A single officer in Chicago has been found responsible so far for 14 of them. In 2018, there were 17 exonerations of people convicted on homicide charges that involved false confessions plus two additional homicide exonerations.

In one case, it was found that although a man was convicted for raping and murdering a child, no sexual assault had occurred, and the injuries may have happened when a car hit the child. In another one, a man incarcerated for 45 years for murder on unreliable testimony was released. The same was true for another man imprisoned for sexual assault for 44 years.

After a person is charged with a crime, an attorney might look into official misconduct or other behaviors that could result in evidence being dismissed or the case being thrown out altogether. Examples of official misconduct could include an illegal search or failing to inform people of their rights when they are taken into custody. Evidence might also be mishandled. If a case does go to trial, an attorney might question the accuracy of any witness accounts.

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