“Our procedure has been always haunted by the ghost of the innocent man convicted. It is an unreal dream.” - Judge Learned Hand, 1923 (writing in United States v. Garrison, 291 F. 646).
Eighty years of experience has proven that the esteemed Judge Learned Hand was dead wrong! Innocent people can and do get convicted in the American criminal justice system, and are convicted at alarming rates. The Innocence Project, an organization dedicated to documenting and reversing wrongful convictions, has documented 305 exonerations of innocent individuals in courts around the country – but this is just the teeny tip of a gargantuan iceberg. These exonerated individuals served many years – and often decades – of wrongful imprisonment. Innocent individuals continue to be held in Ohio prisons at this very moment.
How is it that we, a society of brain surgery, iPhones, and spacecrafts to Mars, continue to suffer catastrophic failures in our criminal justice system? How is it that our elaborate procedures designed to catch the right perpetrator: trained police investigators, forensic science, and a legal system with constitutional rights...juries...trials...appeals...can fail? Can anyone really still be innocent if they are convicted by a jury and lose numerous appeals? I expect humanists will see themes from other facets of life at work: a lack of scientific and logical rigor, emotions overriding reason, groupthink, and cognitive biases. Audience questions are encouraged.
Join us at 12:30 for pizza in the meeting room!