Thursday, March 12, 2009

The American Criminal Injustice System

By Paul Craig Roberts

Ronald Cotton spent 11 years in prison because Jennifer Thompson provided eye witness testimony that he was the person who raped her. On March 9, National Public Radio revisited the story.

It turned out that Thompson was completely wrong, DNA evidence indicated that it was not Cotton but another man who had bragged about the rape.

Thompson asked Cotton for forgiveness, and he gave it. The two became friends and have collaborated on a book. On NPR Thompson said that eye witness testimony is incorrect 70 percent of the time.

I am familiar with psychological studies that conclude that eye witness accounts are wrong half of the time. That is enough to discredit eye witness testimony as evidence; yet, police and juries always bank on it.

Rape victims tend to be angry, and they want someone to pay. When shown mug shots or a lineup, they tend to pick someone, naively believing that if it is the wrong person the police investigation will clear the person.

Read the rest of the article.

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