Scrutinizing the Complexities of Wrongful Convictions

 Allison D. Redlich and James R. Acker
 Left to right: Allison D. Redlich, James R. Acker
Hundreds of individuals erroneously convicted of rape, murder, and other serious felonies, many of whom spent decades in prisons and/or were under the death sentence, have been exonerated by DNA evidence. Some studies estimate that wrongful convictions in the U.S. occur in three percent or more of annual felony convictions.

School of Criminal Justice researchers James R. Acker and Allison D. Redlich delve into this complicated subject in their 2011 book, Wrongful Conviction: Law, Science, and Policy (Durham, N.C.; Carolina Academic Press).

Acker and Redlich's work addresses issues of law, science and policy related to wrongful convictions in the American justice system. Organized in the form of a casebook, the book includes detailed analyses of forensic science, jailhouse snitches, false confessions, prosecutorial misconduct, ineffective defense counsel and unreliable eyewitness accounts.

The authors observe that many of the problems contributing to wrongful convictions are well known, but criminal justice systems still struggle for remedies.

Acker is a well-published expert in the areas of death penalty law and judicial uses of social science research. Redlich is internationally recognized for her studies on police interrogations and false confessions, particularly involving vulnerable populations, such as persons with mental illness and juveniles.