Writing in the Washington Post yesterday, former Washington, D.C., police detective Jim Trainum describes the experience of nearly sending an innocent woman to prison and advocates for states to learn from mistakes to prevent injustice.
As a new detective in 1994, Trainum worked on a case where a woman falsely confessed to a crime she didn’t commit. An airtight alibi would clear her before trial, but Trainum writes that the case showed him how easy it would be for a wrongful conviction to happen. If states don’t learn from each wrongful conviction overturned through DNA, he writes, we are doomed to repeat these injustices on other innocent people.
Innocence Commissions, which examine the causes of wrongful convictions and recommend policy changes to address these causes, are active in several states. Trainum writes:
Innocence Commissions are a win-win for everyone. When we study our criminal justice system and work to make it better, we not only reduce the chances of convicting the innocent but we also increase our chances of convicting the guilty. We also show the public that the system is strong enough to recognize and fix its own mistakes.
Read the full op-ed here
. (Washington Post, 03/28/2010)