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Smoke But No Fire: When Innocent People Are Wrongly Convicted Of Crimes That Never Happened, Jessica S. Henry Apr 2018

Smoke But No Fire: When Innocent People Are Wrongly Convicted Of Crimes That Never Happened, Jessica S. Henry

Department of Justice Studies Faculty Scholarship and Creative Works

Nearly one-third of exonerations involve the wrongful conviction of an innocent person for a crime that never actually happened, such as when the police plant drugs on an innocent person, a scorned lover invents a false accusation, or an expert mislabels a suicide as a murder. Despite the frequency with which no-crime convictions take place, little scholarship has been devoted to the subject. This Article seeks to fill that gap in the literature by exploring no-crime wrongful convictions as a discrete and unique phenomenon within the wrongful convictions universe. This Article considers three main factors that contribute to no-crime wrongful ...


Promoting The Study Of Wrongful Convictions In Criminal Justice Curricula, Jessica S. Henry Feb 2014

Promoting The Study Of Wrongful Convictions In Criminal Justice Curricula, Jessica S. Henry

Department of Justice Studies Faculty Scholarship and Creative Works

Criminal justice education promotes interdisciplinary learning, critical thinking skills, and ethical decision making. A course on wrongful convictions falls squarely within that paradigm, as it draws upon criminology, criminal justice, law, psychology, and forensic science to examine basic assumptions about the criminal justice system and the actors within it. In a wrongful convictions course, students learn to think critically about the criminal justice system, and what happens when it fails to function as it should. Students identify practice and policy reforms that improve the accuracy and reliability of the system. This article first considers the broad objectives of criminal justice ...


Exacerbating Injustice, Stephanos Bibas Nov 2008

Exacerbating Injustice, Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

This brief essay responds to Josh Bowers' argument that criminal procedure should openly allow innocent defendants to plead guilty as a legal fiction. Though most scholars emphasize the few but salient serious felony cases, Bowers is right to refocus attention on misdemeanors and violations, which are far more numerous. And though the phrase wrongful convictions conjures up images of punishing upstanding citizens, Bowers is also right to emphasize that recidivists are far more likely to suffer wrongful suspicion and conviction. Bowers' mistake is to treat the criminal justice system as simply a means of satisfying defendants' preferences and choices. This ...


Wrongly Accused Redux: How Race Contributes To Convicting The Innocent: The Informants Example, Andrew E. Taslitz Jan 2008

Wrongly Accused Redux: How Race Contributes To Convicting The Innocent: The Informants Example, Andrew E. Taslitz

School of Law Faculty Publications

This article analyzes five forces that may raise the risk of convicting the innocent based upon the suspect's race: the selection, ratchet, procedural justice, bystanders, and aggressive-suspicion effects. In other words, subconscious forces press police to focus more attention on racial minorites, the ratchet makes this focus every-increasing, the resulting sense by the community of unfair treatment raises its involvment in crime while lowering its willingness to aid the police in resisting crime, innocent persons suffer when their skin color becomes associated with criminality, and the police use more aggressive techniques on racial minorities in a way that raises ...


Engaging Capital Emotions, Douglas A. Berman, Stephanos Bibas Jan 2008

Engaging Capital Emotions, Douglas A. Berman, Stephanos Bibas

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

The Supreme Court, in Kennedy v. Louisiana, is about to decide whether the Eighth Amendment forbids capital punishment for child rape. Commentators are aghast, viewing this as a vengeful recrudescence of emotion clouding sober, rational criminal justice policy. To their minds, emotion is distracting. To ours, however, emotion is central to understand the death penalty. Descriptively, emotions help to explain many features of our death-penalty jurisprudence. Normatively, emotions are central to why we punish, and denying or squelching them risks prompting vigilantism and other unhealthy outlets for this normal human reaction. The emotional case for the death penalty for child ...