Wrongful Convictions in Georgia
Georgia has had its share of wrongful convictions, and the state has taken steps to try to prevent them from happening in the future. In 2005, the Georgia Supreme Court set up a Commission on Equal Justice in response to concerns about wrongful convictions. The commission is tasked with looking into cases where people have been convicted of crimes they did not commit and making recommendations to the court on how to improve the justice system.
In 2007, the commission released a report that found that there had been 23 wrongful convictions in Georgia since 1970. Of those, 13 were for murder, and 10 were for rape. The report also found that most of the wrongful convictions were due to mistaken eyewitness identification, poor police work, or false confessions.
In response to the report, the Georgia legislature passed a law in 2008 that requires police to tape-record interrogations in homicide and serious injury cases. The law also requires prosecutors to disclose any evidence that could be helpful to the defense, and it gives judges more discretion in allowing expert testimony about eyewitness identification.
While the steps taken by the state of Georgia are a good start, there is always room for improvement. Wrongful convictions can have a devastating effect on the lives of those who are convicted, as well as their families. We must continue to work to ensure that everyone who is accused of a crime receives a fair trial.
If you have been wrongfully convicted of a crime, or if you know someone who has, you should contact an experienced Georgia criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you investigate your case and determine if there is any evidence that can be used to prove your innocence.
Causes of False Convictions in Georgia
There are many reasons why someone might be wrongfully convicted of a crime. Some of the most common causes of false convictions include:
- EyewitnessMisidentification: Eyewitnesses can mistakenly identify a suspect, especially if they are under stress or if the person they saw was of a different race than them.
- False Confessions: People can be coerced or tricked into confessing to crimes they didn’t commit. This is especially true for people with low IQs or those who are emotionally vulnerable.
- Poor Police Work: Police sometimes rely on faulty evidence, such as bite mark comparisons or hair analysis, to convict someone of a crime. They may also use questionable interrogation techniques, such as leading questions or threats, to get a confession.
- Informants: In some cases, informants may lie to police about someone’s involvement in a crime to get a reduced sentence for themselves.
- Prosecutorial Misconduct: Prosecutors may withhold evidence that could be helpful to the defense or they may use questionable tactics, such as presenting false evidence or making inflammatory statements, to secure a conviction.
- Inadequate Legal Representation: Some people can’t afford a good lawyer, and end up being represented by a public defender who is overworked and doesn’t have enough time to properly investigate their case.
How Was the Georgia Innocence Project Founded?
Georgia Innocence Project (GIP) is an independent nonprofit organization that works to correct and prevent wrongful convictions in Georgia. The Georgia Innocence Project was founded in 2002 by a group of attorneys, journalists, and students from Emory University School of Law. GIP helps prevent future wrongful convictions by raising awareness through education and by advocating for policy and legislative reform. The project is dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing and reform of the criminal justice system. Georgia Innocence Project (GIP) also works with exonerees to connect them with resources to reintegrate into society and create a supportive community. To date, the Innocence Project has helped to free 19 innocent people in Georgia.
What Are Some Recent Exonerations in Georgia?
In 2017, Anthony Powell was exonerated after serving 17 years in prison for a rape he did not commit. DNA evidence proved that Powell could not have been the attacker, and the victim identified another man as her attacker.
In 2016, Maurice Possley wrote an article for The Marshall Project about the wrongful conviction of Clarence Harrison. Harrison was convicted of rape in 1984, based on the testimony of a single eyewitness. However, DNA testing later proved that Harrison could not have been the attacker, and the victim recanted her testimony. Harrison was exonerated in 2015 and released from prison after serving 31 years.
How Can You Help Prevent Wrongful Convictions?
There are several things you can do to help prevent wrongful convictions:
- Be an informed voter: support candidates who are committed to criminal justice reform.
- Educate yourself about the causes of wrongful convictions and share this information with others.
- Support organizations that work to exonerate the wrongfully convicted, such as the Georgia Innocence Project.
- Contact your state representatives and urge them to support bills that would help prevent wrongful convictions, such as eyewitness identification reform or the recording of police interrogations.
- If you are a juror, take your responsibility seriously and do not convict someone unless you are convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that they are guilty.
States have a responsibility to restore the lives of the wrongfully convicted. Despite their proven innocence, the difficulty of reentering society is profound for the wrongfully convicted; the failure to compensate them adds insult to injury. By remedying the causes of wrongful convictions, the criminal legal system is improved for everyone. Anyone accused of a crime should receive a fair trial.
If you have been wrongfully convicted of a crime, or if you know someone who has, you should contact an experienced Georgia criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you investigate your case and determine if there is any evidence that can be used to prove your innocence. You should also contact the Georgia Innocence Project, which is a non-profit organization that works to help exonerate those who have been wrongly convicted.
General Contact Information
50 Hurt Plaza, Suite 350
Atlanta, GA 30303
Phone (404) 373-4433