Outside the Box: Wrongful convictions cost American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Wrongdoing prosecutors must be held accountable.

by | Oct 15, 2022 | Stock Market

Prosecutors announced earlier this week that they were dropping all charges against Adnan Syed, a few weeks after his murder conviction was thrown out by a judge. The news from Baltimore garnered headlines nationwide, almost a decade after the case initially gained notoriety on the podcast “Serial.”  Yet what led to the overturned conviction is something that didn’t grab as many headlines, but happens far too frequently in prosecutor’s offices nationwide: the failure by prosecutors to turn over critical exculpatory evidence that could influence the outcome of a case and the ability of the person charged with a crime to defend themselves. That failure is one that should be of concern to all who value the integrity of our criminal legal system.

Given the vastness of America’s carceral system, even the most conservative estimates suggest that tens of thousands of innocent people are incarcerated, costing U.S. taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year. This also means that tens of thousands of people are not being held accountable for the harm they’ve caused to the community. And every dollar spent convicting and incarcerating the wrong people is a dollar that can’t be used to prevent, investigate and prosecute serious crimes.

“ Rates of official misconduct are highest for the most serious crimes .”

According to a report from the National Registry of Exonerations, concealed exculpatory evidence is the most common type of official misconduct driving wrongful convictions, having played a role in 44% of cases that resulted in an exoneration through 2019. Rates of official misconduct are highest for the most serious crimes — when the pressure to secure a convicti …

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