Expert: Many Innocent People Are In Fla. Prisons

By: AP
By: AP

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) --

An expert says that although DNA evidence has freed a dozen people from Florida prisons, there are likely more than 200 innocents still locked away.

Gary Wells, an expert on eyewitness testimony, figures that's
because DNA evidence is available in only about 5 percent of
criminal bases, mostly sexual assaults. So for every DNA
exoneration, he says, "you have to minimally multiply it by 20."

The Iowa State University psychologist told the Florida
Innocence Commission that eyewitness mistakes is the No. 1
contributor to faulty convictions that are later overturned by DNA
testing.

The 22-member Innocence Commission, meeting in Tampa Monday, November 2 is charged with finding ways to keep innocent people out of prison.


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  • by Anonymous on Nov 23, 2010 at 04:32 PM
    Our legal system is not and never will be perfect, but I dare say it is as fair as any on the planet. And if you are sent to prison in this country, whether for ten years or one mistaken night, I imagine that you can expect to be treated by prison personnel as though you are guilty. Prison workers are motivated by self preservation if nothing else, and to treat any inmate more leniently based on some unfounded suspicion of their innocence would not bode well for personal safety or job security. Years ago I worked for a short time in the federal prison system. My experience was that the vast majority of inmates who offfered any comment at all on their guilt or innocence tended to admit guilt, either outright or by implication. Sure, there are some behind bars who have been unjustly convicted. But the notion that we have hoards of innocent individuals held in U.S. jails is absurd and a myth propogated by various left wing organizations of questionable motive.
  • by Concerned Location: Crawfordville on Nov 23, 2010 at 04:24 AM
    I spent one night in the Harvey Hilton on mistaken charges and found that I was treated as guilty by the personell working there. I talked to guys that where there for petty crimes and had been kept longer than necessary because the system neither works effeciently or correctly. Public Defenders although well intentioned, are just overwhelmed and I saw first hand what "Justice" is saying to be true. Our Justice system is a mindless cookie cutter conveyor belt process.
  • by ConservativeHippie on Nov 23, 2010 at 03:59 AM
    "Our justice system put these people in prison. Our justice system may not be perfect, but there is nothing better in the world. Does this Expert have any ways to make the system better?" I do. Every time a convict is exonerated; the judge, jury and prosecutor who convicted and sentenced that person goes to prison for the same amount of time to which that person was sentenced.
  • by ETurnage Location: Tallahassee on Nov 23, 2010 at 01:25 AM
    This is a suprise? Look back on how many people have been released from deathrow on DNA evidence in Texas alone. Do you think our judiciary or enforcement is any better?
  • by X-COP Location: GA on Nov 22, 2010 at 07:30 PM
    thanks justic--the average citizen just dont realize what alousy crooked system we have. no.1 the laws are designed to protect the criminal. once you have dealt with these lousy scumbag laweyers cops judges distric attorneys you realize what america isall about.it is about dollars. this is what they tell you the first day when you report to the probation office here in lowndes county wether it is fir meth dwi whatever. IF YOU PAY THE FINE OFF WE WILL DROP YOUR PROBATION. IS THAT JUSTIC VOTERS.
  • by Anonymous on Nov 22, 2010 at 07:01 PM
    Posted by: Justice? on Nov 22, 2010 at 07:27 PM Hit the nail on the head!
  • by tina Location: usa on Nov 22, 2010 at 04:28 PM
    jamea a-----it is only a human life huh. NOT YOUR LIFE OR YOUR CHILDREN. if it was only 200. i can garantee you there are 1000's that should not be there.
  • by Justice? on Nov 22, 2010 at 04:27 PM
    The plea bargain is the biggest reason there are innocent people in jail. If you are arrested for a crime, even if you aren;t guilty, you may be told they will give you 3 years in prison and 10 years probation if you take a plea. Then they say they will press for 20 years of prison time if you choose a jury trial and lose. If you are a poor minority who can't pay a lawyer a $3000 retainer - guess what - you will lose at trial with your sorry excuse of a public defender who has 300 other cases going simultaneously and you will get 20 years in prison. Which would you choose? I've been in court and seen a public defender line up 10 or 12 men and go down the line with them telling them what to say and it is probably the only time they have spoken with them before court. People with money or resources get justice. Poor people go to prison.
  • by Anonymous on Nov 22, 2010 at 03:47 PM
    Prosecutors and jurors have committed no crimes in having someone convicted wrongly. How can they be put in prison. Our justice system is far from perfect and there will be mistakes made on both sides. How many guilty people have been freed with a not guilty verdict. Hopefully more people get away with things than get convicted wrongly, but there is no way to really know for sure. If you don't like our justice system then move to a country with a better one.
  • by Matthew Location: Florida on Nov 22, 2010 at 03:40 PM
    Even if 200 innocents in prison is only a small percentage of the total number of people in prison, if you were one of those 200, you would want to be free. Think how awful it would be to be one of the innocents in prison; it would not matter that the justice system was mostly accurate, because for you it wasn't. All of the innocent must be set free, though we must figure out how.
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