How Common Are Wrongful Convictions?

There is a fine line that separates us from anarchy — our legal system.  Most of us think our system works pretty well, the occasional horror story on social media notwithstanding.

And yet, I’m finding enough of those horror stories to give me pause.  For example, Jim Parsons was convicted of murdering his wife twelve years after the crime and without any forensic evidence.  He was finally released at age 78 after spending 23 years in prison ( ).  Such cases undermine confidence in our entire system of justice.

Fortunately, something is being done.  In 2003, the University of Cincinnati’s College of Law started the Ohio Innocence Project.  By taking advantage of the talents of law students, the OIP identifies Ohio prison inmates who are innocent, using techniques like DNA testing, new expert testimony, or evidence of police misconduct.  Cases are re-litigated based on new evidence.  The OIP to date has helped 23 people obtain freedom.

And there are others.  Innocence Projects across the country are credited with having freed more than 250 individuals who were wrongly convicted of crimes.  So there are plenty of questionable cases to be examined, and every time a convict is actually proved innocent, our trust in the system, or maybe I should say the human race, can increase a little bit more.

For more information on the Ohio Innocence Project, go to A list of their significant cases is at  Also see my comments on “Racism in the Legal System, posted December 12, 2016.


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