Frontmatter

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Contents

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p. vii

Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xiii

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Introduction

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pp. 1-10

In December 2005, the ABC television network issued a press release announcing a new project to “to overturn wrongful convictions, liberate the falsely accused and discover the identity of those really to blame.”1 Rather than heralding an advocacy organization, however, ABC’s release concerned a new television series it would air, called In Justice. According to Stephen...

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1 History and Background

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pp. 11-41

Twenty years ago, the claim that innocent people had been wrongly convicted of serious crimes would have been “treated with general incredulity.” By 2001, however, a “Harris Poll found 94 percent of Americans believed that innocent defendants are sometimes executed.” 1 How did we get to this point? Many observers point their fingers at DNA testing, saying the exonerations that came to light in the late 1990s made it impossible to deny that the...

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2 The Innocence Commission for Virginia

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pp. 42-73

It is sometimes said that we academicians live in an ivory tower, weighing philosophical issues under ideal conditions without having to get our hands dirty in “the real world.” By the same token, lawyers in private practice, particularly those in large law firms, are sometimes accused of trading ideals for wealth and prestige. Who cares about justice, it’s said, when you...

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3 The Cases

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pp. 74-131

Many of us tend to view wrongful convictions through a model of cause and effect. We know there was a grievous error; we presume there was a cause; and we seek to uncover the trigger in order to prevent its harmful effects in the future. Noted criminologist Richard Leo has labeled this the “familiar plot” of scholarship on wrongful conviction, in which the supposedly “well-known” causes of wrongful conviction appear to necessitate a series of...

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4 An Unmet Obligation

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pp. 132-203

It is difficult to confront the deficiencies of the criminal justice process that can send innocent people to prison or allow the guilty to roam free without feeling compelled to prevent future errors from occurring. Whether we identify with the innocent suspect, who is convicted and left to serve time for a crime he did not commit; the helpless victim, who is attacked by a criminal who should...

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5 Putting It All Together

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pp. 204-244

The year 2009 will mark two decades since the first DNA exoneration. Over that time we seem to have reached the point at which virtually all the studies of wrongful convictions have come to similar conclusions. Among the most recent reports were those led by Professor Samuel Gross and the law firm...

Appendixes

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pp. 245-304

Notes

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pp. 305-335

Index

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pp. 337-344

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About the Author

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p. 345

Jon B. Gould is an associate professor at George Mason University, where he is director of the Center for Justice, Law & Society. He is a former U.S. Supreme Court fellow and is the chair of the Innocence Commission for Virginia, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization helping prevent wrongful convictions...