‘Imprisoning an innocent person may well be the worst thing that the state can do to one of its citizens.’
Australians generally trust their criminal justice system, but most are unaware that wrongful convictions are common, are not systematically recorded and are very difficult to correct.
This book seeks to document the incidence of wrongful convictions and explain the factors that contribute to them. These include the fallibility of much forensic science evidence, the difficulties for courts in understanding complex scientific evidence, and the contribution made to wrongful convictions by ‘tunnel vision’ on the part of those investigating and prosecuting crimes.
The authors argue for two sets of reforms. First, forensic science must be placed on the firmest scientific basis possible and be independent of the police. Second, the ultimate petition to the Governor for mercy, which is a political process, must be replaced by an independent expert review agency in the form of a Criminal Cases Review Commission. Such Commissions already function as respected components of the criminal justice system in other common law countries.