Henry James was only 19 years during his conviction for rape that he did not commit. It is after thirty years imprisonment that the realization of his innocence emerges thereby keeping it free. This case is a good example of the importance of evidence in the proceedings of a case. The imprisonment of the innocent man arose because of the little evidence that he had against the accusation (Katz 2011). Lose of evidence serves as a foundation of wrongful convictions in most cases and an individual who might be having power of the court ruling can easily manipulate the case for his own benefits. Prosecutorial misconduct serves critically in the lost of evidence consequently leading to the wrongful conviction of an individual. This article is an illustration of how lost of evidence leads to the wrongful conviction of Henry James and the people who are to blame (Katz 2011).
What are the central issues in this problem?
The main central issue in the case was the loss of evidence making Henry James to lose support against the accusation. Evidence is important for the court to determine the innocence of a person. This means that an individual would have to gather enough evidence showing that the accusation was wrong; otherwise, the absence of evidence will lead to conviction. The court cannot judge an individual through the outward looks bringing the need for evidence to support an individual stand (Katz 2011). Even if innocent, the individual would need to convince the court by the use of relevant evidences since the defendants also have their evidences. Consequently, the recovery of the evidences makes Henry James to relive his case, which in turn makes him free because of the strength (evidence). Further, the modern world has witnessed advancement in technology leading to the emergence of DNA test, which was not present in the last two decades. The DNA test helps in determining whether there was copulation between the accused man and he defendant. The use of DNA test helped in showing the innocence of Henry through the negative results. Consequently, the absence of the DNA test during the conviction time led to the meager evidence for supporting Henry James (Katz 2011).
Another central issue in the case is the innocence compensation fund. This is payment given to an individual of wrongful convictions in the absence of evidence. The fund is critical for the wrongfully convicted individuals since it acts as a compensation for the time lost and false accusation. The 30 years of imprisonment bear fortunes for Henry James hence the absence of compensation would mean that he had wasted the year that he could have used in investing in his future life. The compensation fund helps the individual in starting a new life after the wrong accusations (Katz 2011).
ii. What is the frequency or scope of this issue/problem? (Provide and discuss data.)
The issue of wrongful convictions has always resulted after many cases, especially due to the absence of evidence to set an individual free. The frequency of occurrence of the problem even led to the strengthening of the compensation fund for the wrongfully convicted individuals. An article in The Times-Picayune written by Paul Purpura asserts "for second day in a row Friday, a Jefferson Parish Judge authorized payments for men who were wrongfully convicted of crimes. The total amount contributed to the compensation by then was more than $1million since there were four men who spent in the Angola penitentiary without crimes commited. Henry got a compensation of $250,000 from the compensation fund thereby showing the weight of the issue and the way in which it affects the individuals (Katz 2011). Apart from the $250, 000, Henry also received medical expenses amounting to $80, 000. Henry's compensation occurs just a day after the ruling by a judge that three West Bank individual had been wrongfully convicted hence the need to compensate them with money. The judicial District Court ruled that Glenn Davis, Larry Delmore and Terrence Meyers were to receive $250, 000 in addition to $80,000 in services for their wrongful conviction in 1993. The court wrongfully convicted the men of murder of Samuel George, an alleged crack dealer, on the year 1992. They spent 16 years behind bars before the realization of their innocence (Katz 2011). The need to increase the compensation funds for the wrongfully convicte persons to $500,000 is a stun illustration that the issue is on the rise especially in Angola. The article asserts, Louisiana ranks nationally second from the bottom in terms of the amount it provides the wrongfully convicted, according to the Innocence Project New Orleans.
iii. Why is it controversial?
The effects of wrongful convictions have led to the debate over two issues: who should be considered wrongly convicted and how to characterize prosecutorial misconduct that leads to these injustices.
I thing the blame should be on the prosecutorial misconduct which then results to wrongful convictions. The prosecutorial misconduct especially arises from Withholding of Exculpatory Evidence and allowing perjured testimony. Withholding of exculpatory evidence results when the involved prosecutor helps in suppressing he evidence provided by an accused individuals. Suppressing means that the prosecutor intentionally makes the evidence be weak that it cannot help the accuser in standing against the defense (Katz 2011). The prosecutor may decline to submit some of the crucial evidences thereby reducing the probability of the individual winning over the case. This means that the deliberate actions by the prosecutors can act in wrongful conviction of an individual. The prosecutors may hide the evidence because of the manipulation from the other side. This is a wrong practice on the side of the prosecutors since they put their clients into unnecessary problems (Katz 2011).
The first issue is that arising on the individuals who should be considered as wrongly convicted. Most of the prisoners convicted of crimes will always convince themselves that they can declare themselves as innocent after the realization of wrongful conviction. This implies that most of them will attempt to relive their cases in order to be successful like Henry James. However, the court will experience a hard process of deciding on which individual have undergone wrongful conviction (Katz 2011). This presents a difficult situation because of the increase in the number of the cases. This issue is controversial when considering the need to provide compensation funds to the wrongfully convicted. The increase in the number of these cases leads to the State spending unnecessary funds on compensating the individuals. This means that any wrongful conviction would see the government paying $500, 000 for the wrongfully convicted. The opponents of the compensation arising as the result of wrongful conviction assert that this process is a burden to the government since it hinders other states activities, which may need money for operation. Another controversial issue arising from this case, is the need to relive the process (court process). This implies that there is need for the defendant to secure additional funds for his or her lawyer since it is as the case is fresh again (Katz 2011). The defendants would have to suffer a double tragedy since they had already spent some cash on the initial case. Consequently, the realization of wrongful convictions has effect on both the defendant and the accused beside the involved government.
iv. What are the key legal decisions affecting this practice?
Some of the legal decisions affecting the wrongful convictions include eyewitness misidentification, invalidated forensic science and snitch testimony. The eyewitness misidentification always involves the issue of mistaken identification evidence. This occurs when there is foul police procedure, which hinders the eyewitness identification; consequently, causing false presentation of mistaken identification evidence. However, the solution to this involves incorporating scientifically validated devices in the process in order to avoid falsification of the result during the court case (Fisher 2011). The forensic science is a legal process, which helps in validation of an evidence. However, invalidated scientific process may lead to foul presentation of the evidence thereby turning against the defense or the accused. The issue of the exoneration also forces some suspects to con confessed to the crimes that they did not commit. This means that the individuals will not be acting on their personal provisions as per the evidences.
v. How was the individual in your case study affected by this practice?
Vi. Duration in prison before conviction, nature of life as an inmate; before and after their incarceration (as someone wrongfully convicted)
Henry James served 30 years (1982-2011) in prison before his release in 2011. Results of a DNA test in September 2011 indicated that Henry James did not commit the alleged rape of his acquaintance in 1982. Henry James lived an ordinary life just like any other person in the neighborhood of Westwego home. The victim was one of his acquaintances in Westwego (Fisher 2011). He even helped the husband to the victim fix his car before the life-changing arrest, which led to his 30-year confinement. According…