Let’s start to examine some of the areas of great national pride. Let’s look at some areas that “everybody knows” are exemplary.
A. We will never know for sure, but the few studies that have been done estimate that between 2.3% and 5% of all prisoners in the U.S. are innocent (for context, if just 1% of all prisoners are innocent, that would mean that more than 20,000 innocent people are in prison).
More broadly, we know that innocent people are often identified as suspects by law enforcement and that DNA testing often clears them before they go to trial, but that DNA testing is impossible in the vast majority of criminal cases. In approximately 25% of cases where DNA testing was done by the FBI during the course of investigations, suspects were excluded by the testing. That doesn’t mean we believe 25% of convictions are in error, but when coupled with the fact that DNA testing is only possible in 5-10% of all criminal cases, it shows that science cannot always clear innocent suspects, which can result in wrongful convictions.
Where DNA testing was possible, many suspects were excluded. If only 2.3% and 5% of all prisoners in the U.S. are innocent, then 46,000 to 100,000 of the two million incarcerated are innocent. The damage done to this people is by no means limited to the incarceration period. The time and money that people spend defending themselves is a hell on earth not only to the defendants, but their entire families. Amanda Knox and Raffaele Solecito have spent in excess of six years and four million dollars defending themselves.
The innocent spend more time and money defending themselves because they know they are innocent. The guilty just plead down and try to minimize the expense and the sentence.
Bear in mind that this is in progress and presently the result of a minute of research and a few minutes writing. It will be expanded and enhanced. All areas of great national pride will be examined.
To be continued…