A troubling case provides a test of Ms. Alvarez's commitment to right wrongful convictions. It turns on an issue that cuts to the core of the criminal justice system: The procurement of false testimony by a jailhouse snitch.
The justices flatly rejected prosecutors' arguments that Stanley Wrice's conviction should stand even if he had been tortured by two of Jon Burge's cops. The language was a ringing victory for all police torture victims.
We can't pretend that cross-racial misidentification isn't a problem in criminal cases. False witness testimony is the greatest cause of wrongful convictions nationwide. Mostly, the mistaken witness was white and the suspect was black.
Wrongful convictions occur because prosecutors forget that their mandate "in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be done," as the United States Supreme Court has decided.
Nationwide, DNA tests have helped exonerate 280 innocent men and women. Since the first DNA exoneration 22 years ago in 1989, 49 states have passed laws granting inmates the right to test DNA evidence.
Behind each wrongful conviction lie broken lives and shattered dreams. Each one represents a serious and substantial failure of law enforcement: the wrong person locked up; the actual perpetrator at large.
Experts say human memory is malleable and that eyewitnesses' recollections should be treated with the delicacy of any other crime scene evidence. That doesn't always happen. Here, a resource guide for covering misidentifications and wrongful convictions in your jurisdiction.
Why should a person who has been wrongly convicted, declared innocent, acquitted and exonerated have to prove anything in order to be compensated? Every state should have mandatory compensation in all such cases.