If you think only guilty people confess to crimes, you couldn't be more wrong. In fact, innocent individuals are often convicted after they provide police with false confessions.
Jennifer Del Prete spent nearly a decade in prison after being found guilty in the "shaken baby syndrome" death of an infant in her care. She was released last August after an appeals court found that the prosecution had withheld key evidence that might have exonerated her. Prosecutors are constitutionally required to turn over all pro-defense evidence.
In a bid to reduce the number of people who pass through city jails and criminal courts on minor charges, the district attorneys of Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan have moved to dismiss 644,494 warrants. These warrants were issued over the past 10 years for minor crimes such as public drinking or riding a bicycle on the sidewalk.
Wrongful convictions are a serious problem, particularly in New York. In fact, just yesterday we wrote about a top Brooklyn politician who wants to set up a special commission to investigate wrongful convictions, their causes and the people to blame.
Brooklyn's borough president is lobbying the state to create a special commission to investigate and resolve wrongful convictions. In his county, over two dozen convictions, including some for murder, have been overturned since 2014, and he wants an independent commission set up to "examine exactly what went wrong here and who's culpable."
The Brooklyn District Attorney's Office is seeking to void the 1997 murder conviction of Jabbar Washington. His case was one of those investigated by infamous former detective Louis Scarcella, retired, who was once renowned in Brooklyn for handling cases in the crime-heavy 80s and 90s.
A federal judge has approved a $75-million settlement in a class-action lawsuit brought against New York City after the NYPD issued hundreds of thousands of criminal summonses, regardless of the legal justification, in order to make quotas. The practice, part of the NYPD's "broken windows" approach, disproportionately affected minorities and may be unconstitutional.
After serving 17 years in prison for a 1999 robbery he adamantly denied committing, a Kansas City man is now free. What is particularly surprising about this case, however, is the reason for his freedom: he alleges his doppelganger may have actually committed the crime.
A former model who was convicted last year of trying to hire a hit man has been overturned. The woman was sentenced to seven years in prison for allegedly trying to have her husband's ex-wife murdered in what seems to have been a custody dispute. The hit man she tried to hire was actually an informant, and she paid him $175.
Earlier this week, we told you about how, under certain circumstances, victims of wrongful convictions may not be able to seek damages for their wrongful incarceration if they falsely confessed to the crime or pled guilty in order to avoid a harsher sentence.