North Carolina editorial: Fix the court system to prevent wrongful convictions


An editorial in the Raleigh-Durham News & Observer calls on state officials to build a better system of criminal justice, one that doesn’t run such a high risk of sending the innocent to prison. Erick Daniels’ family members rejoiced in a Durham courtroom a week ago, when he was released after seven years in prison for a crime that he always maintained he didn’t commit. This joy, however, masked deeper flaws in the system, the editorial says.

There have been too many instances in recent years, by no means only in Durham, of North Carolina courts rendering judgments that turn out to demonstrably flawed. People have been sent to prison for crimes they didn't commit, and even have been placed at risk of execution.

Causes range from court systems struggling with a lack of resources to prosecutors who are too focused on the courtroom contest at the expense of getting things right. But the effects, besides the cruel unfairness of wrongful conviction, are also to let the guilty go free and to shake public trust in the judicial system.

Read the full story here

. (News & Observer, 09/27/08)

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