According to an article in the Examiner this morning, the Innocence Project is slated to announce its 200th DNA exoneration later this month. According to Johns Hopkins criminologist (and former Maryland state trooper), the event “should be a huge wake-up call for the entire criminal justice system.”
Faulty eyewitness IDs are again listed as the predominant cause of wrongful conviction. Suzanne Drouet of the Maryland Innocence Project weighs in on the problem:
“It’s a confirmation for what defense attorneys have talked about for years: Eyewitness identification should be regarded with skepticism, scientific evidence is not infallible and confessions can be coerced,” Drouet said. “People doubted that. With the advent of the DNA revolution, it showed what defense attorneys have been saying for years was correct.”
But 200 exonerations is, we can only assume, the tip of a much larger iceberg. Hopefully the upcoming announcement will put the spotlight on the problem, and help focus resources on remedying those contributing factors that are within our control — namely the flawed police procedures that are responsible for many of these inaccurate IDs.