True Confessions

| July 29, 2002 Issue

True Confessions, Margaret Talbot, The Atlantic
Our consciences may have been eased somewhat since DNA testing became the protocol in putting criminals on Death Row, but Margaret Talbot in The Atlantic says we still can't be so sure when assigning the death sentence. Talbot cites a classic 70-year-old study by Yale Law School professor Edwin Borchard, who identified ways in which the wrong person gets sent to prison or to death. According to Talbot, we are making the same mistakes, despite DNA evidence. "What is striking about the death-penalty convictions overturned recently (a hundred have been reversed in the past 30 years) and about other cases in which DNA evidence belatedly showed the accused to be innocent is how clearly the convictions rested on the same flawed foundations that Borchard identified." Talbot highlights two common errors in the conviction process, and offers solutions to help ensure that fewer wrongful convictions are made.
--Julie Madsen
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