Wrongful Conviction textbook, compare problems wrongful conviction Canada, United States, United Kingdom. What similarities differences? Discuss
Wrongful Convictions in the International Context
In spite of the fact that the law system has experienced much progress in the recent years, wrongful convictions continue to occur as lawmen encounter impediments and are unable to use the law properly. It often happens for people who are innocent to be convicted on account of an unfortunate set of circumstances. In most cases when this happens, the individuals responsible are law-enforcement officers who are obsessed with their job and have trouble understanding matters from an objective perspective. Problems also occur due to evidence being withheld, false affirmations, lying under oath, and unproductive use of guidance. Although it is impossible to verify the exact number of wrongful convictions, it is only safe to assume that thousands of individuals are wrongfully convicted on a yearly basis. By comparing information from Canada, the U.S., and the U.K., one is likely to observe that there are a series of similarities between these countries when regarding wrongful convictions. Even with this, cultural values and various concepts are also important when considering this issue.
The concept of wrongful convictions emerged during the early twentieth century as society became acquainted with several cases during which the authorities imposed justice unprofessionally. "Both scholarly attention and public attention to this issue have been greatly accelerated by the exonerations of hundreds of wrongfully convicted individuals who had been imprisoned and, in a number of cases, sentenced to death" (Huff & Killias 3-4). Forensic science has made it possible for law to be applied more effectively, considering that it can precisely determine whether or not an individual can be considered guilty in a particular situation. A series of individuals in society have gotten actively engaged in addressing this problem and have performed complex studies meant to generate more efficient means of agreeing on a person's guilt (Huff & Killias 4).
Wrongful convictions cases are not unique and one cannot simply associate them with a single culture. While some might tend to believe that society as a whole is not affected by these convictions, the fact that the masses observe innocent individuals being convicted influences them in believing that the legal system is unjust. Wrongful conditions are damaging for society's well-being because they impose punishment on an innocent person and because they enable a criminal to walk free and actually encourage him or her to continue to commit crimes. Furthermore, the actual victim of the crime cannot be completely justified as long as his or her criminal is still free. The basic point is that not only the person who is wrongfully accused is the victim in a wrongful conviction, as many more lives are at stake.
The masses started to express more interest in the matter during the 1990s and the U.S. is one of the countries that have been involved in discussing it. The country has had a history in dealing with wrongful accusations, especially considering the time period before the moment when the Constitution was issued. "As citizens of a British colony, the colonists were often subjected to secret accusations without the right to question their accusers and were generally denied the types of due process rights that U.S. citizens have taken for granted since the development of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights" (Huff & Killias 59).
While conditions have progressed greatly ever since colonial times, wrongful convictions also occur in the present in the U.S. One of the most aggravating facts regarding this country is that capital punishment is still in effect and innocent individuals can actually end up being executed on account of legislative errors. There are probably tens of individuals who have been executed on unjust grounds in the recent decades in the U.S. Experts have actually found significant mistakes in capital punishment-related convictions that have occurred in the country's recent history.
One of the common conditions where criminals in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. have been wrongfully convicted involved elitist law enforcement groups. These communities generally consider that it is their job to put particular individuals behind bars regardless of their culpability. Special task groups in these countries are provided with missions that they are not expected to question and are determined to do everything in their power with the purpose of apprehending a suspected criminal. They are actually capable of breaking the law and they are even likely to plant evidence on suspects as long as they believe that this would assist them in accomplishing their missions (Huff & Killias 63).
The Canadian Minister of Justice is primarily responsible for reviewing convictions and it is thus essential for him to be able to employ objective thinking in analyzing cases. While someone might regard this as being a normal task, the respective individual would be inclined to ignore the fact that the law enforcement officer would have trouble putting across unprejudiced attitudes concerning his 'colleagues'. This practically means that "one police force polices the errors and malpractices of another -- outside the realm of independent review -- something that is frowned on in most jurisdictions as violating commonsense rules" (Huff & Killias 123). Lawmen that are responsible for wrongfully convicting individuals can thus end up receiving to penalization for their act while the people who are convicted are provided with no justice. The Crown Prosecution Service in the U.K. is relatively similar to the Canadian Minister of Justice and is, as a result, predisposed to favor lawmen as a result of the fact that they basically belong to the same community. While the masses tend to believe that this makes the law system more effective, it is probable that it actually contributes to increasing the number of wrongful convictions.
The U.S. issued the Innocence Protection Act of 2004 with the purpose of helping individuals who have gone through (or are about to go through) an unfair trial. This act was created in order to reduce as much as possible the number of people who risk being wrongfully convicted. This law is meant to support suspects who claim to be innocent by providing them with a series of tools that they can use to prove that they are guiltless. It does not represent a chance to escape for criminals who want to lie under oath, considering that it provides penalties for the applicant if testing demonstrates that he or she is actually responsible for the act.
In spite of the fact that it only seems natural for individuals who are wrongfully convicted to be provided with notable compensations for the years that they lost, the compensation process is controversial, lengthy, and likely to end up unsatisfactory for the victims. Compensation in the case of the U.S. is represented by an increase in "the maximum amount of damages that the U.S. Court of Federal Claims may award against the United States in cases of unjust imprisonment from a flat $5,000 to $50,000 per year in non-capital cases, and $100,000 per year in capital cases" (Bohm 110). Many individuals might be inclined to believe that this is sufficient for the victims, as they are provided with the opportunity to build their lives from scratch. However, no one thinks about the way that these people think consequently to wasting a significant part of their life behind bars. These individuals find it difficult to reintegrate society as a result of the fact that they are well-acquainted with its unjust system. Conditions are relatively similar in the U.K., considering that the highest compensation provided to an individual who experienced a wrongful conviction was 2.1 million pounds. The law previously specified that every person who was wrongfully convicted would be compensated with two million pounds per year. However, it appears that the authorities decided that this was too much for individuals who spent a large part of their lives in a correctional facility.
The concept of compensating people who have been wrongfully convicted is seriously overestimated. While the masses can believe that a person is actually better off consequent to being awarded a large sum of money, they ignore the fact that this person suffered greatly as a consequence of staying in prison. Life behind bars is particularly stressful and it is very difficult for a person to reintegrate society after he or she has been in prison for a long time. The case of Canadian William Mullins-Johnson is especially intriguing when consider compensations. This person was wrongfully convicted and stayed in jail for twelve years before finally being acquitted. He filed a series of lawsuits against various communities and he hopes to be provided with several million dollars for his suffering. However, he considers that there is no amount of money that he would not trade in order to get his life back. Mullins-Johnson believes that prison life changed him and that he can never return to being the person he was before going to jail. He continues to isolate himself…