Unit 8 Writing Assignment Essay

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Unit 8 Writing Assignment
Delphine Turner
Kaplan University

Professor Clouse
October 19, 2010

The legitimacy of the criminal justice system is based largely upon both its effectiveness and its fairness. Its effectiveness is judged by its ability to investigate and detect crime, identify offenders and mete out the appropriate sanctions to those who have been convicted of offences. Its fairness is judged by its thoroughness and the efforts it makes to redress the resource imbalance between the accused and the state at the investigatory, pre-trial, trial and appellate stages. The system does this by providing evidentiary protection and effective legal representation at all points.
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Academic studies in the United States indicate that between one-half and 1% of persons convicted of serious offences did not commit the crime. It has also been suggested by the Criminal Justice Research Centre that as many as 6,000 persons a year are wrongfully convicted of felonies in the United States. There are no similar estimates of the number of wrongful convictions in Canada. An official with the Department of Justice recently estimated that the Department receives about 30 applications a year for the review of criminal convictions.
The causes of wrongful convictions are easy to identify: irregularities and incompetence at the investigatory, pre-trial, trial and appellate stages of the criminal justice system. More particularly, Kaiser identifies the following contributory factors, among others: false accusations, misleading police investigative work, inept defense counsel, misperceptions by Crown prosecutors of their role, factual assumption of an accuser’s guilt by actors in the criminal justice system, community pressure for a conviction, inadequate identification evidence, perjury, false confessions, inadequate or misinterpreted forensic evidence, judicial bias, poor presentation of an appellate case, and difficulty in having fresh evidence admitted at the appellate stage. Each instance of determined wrongful conviction illustrates a different combination of failures in the criminal justice system that has

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