July 6, 2016
Pamela Colhoff’s essay, “Innocent Man”, is a profound example of one peculiar occurrence in the criminal justice system. In Colhoff’s essay a man name Michael Morton was wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife. As a result, he was sentenced to life in prison and separated from his only son from his now murdered wife. After spending over 25 years in prison he was finally exonerated on grounds of actual innocence. There are many other cases similar to Morton to date; over 300 people have been identified of being wrongfully convicted. However, some of those wrongfully convicted are still in prison on pending court decisions and many others have been executed on death row. According to the Innocence Project, the common causes of wrongful conviction are eyewitness misidentification, false confessions, government misconduct, improper forensic evidence, informants, and inadequate defense. One should keep in mind that wrongful convictions are not just an injustice to the accused but also to society because a criminal has gotten away at the expense of another person and is free to commit more. As a result, by analytically examining and giving insight into the primary causes of wrongful conviction more can be done to aid with current cases preventing future cases of wrongful conviction.
Eyewitness misidentification is the number one cause of wrongful convictions yet it should be mentioned that several factors can lead to witness misidentification such as psychological, systematic and cultural factors. (Huff 86). Psychological factors express how witnessing an event such as a crime affects the witness testimony. Psychological factors include stress and the impact complex events have on human memory. Stress effects a person’s ability to process what’s going on around them. Reason being is that while under stress the body responds with increase heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, and dramatic increase...