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Mark Godsey was a “prosecutor’s prosecutor” who didn’t think there were any innocent people in prison. Then he began supervising his law school’s Innocence Project, and realized his assumptions were all wrong.
In the criminal-justice system romanticized by Hollywood films, those convicted of crimes are generally guilty. And a protagonist need only prove that someone’s been wrongly imprisoned to get them freed by a judiciary that values truth and justice. The scrappy investigative reporter, jaded detective, or overmatched defense attorney comes up with the key piece of evidence that proves beyond doubt that someone has been wrongly convicted, and in the next scene that person walks out of the courthouse to be surrounded by joyful loved ones and supporters as the credits roll.
The real world is often quite different. Since it was established in 1992, the Innocence Project has succeeded in reversing the convictions of over 200 people, but the group says that a “staggering number of innocent people” remain behind bars today.
Perhaps even more troubling is that even when clear, indisputable evidence emerges showing that someone has been imprisoned for a crime they didn’t commit, prosecutors, police, and judges will often fight tooth and nail to keep them incarcerated.
In his new book, Blind Injustice: A Former Prosecutor Exposes the Psychology and Politics of Wrongful Convictions, University of Cincinnati legal scholar Mark Godsey examines why that happens. Godsey was a former prosecutor who would later go on to co-found the Ohio Innocence Project, a chapter of the national organization. The book, which is in part a confessional, looks at how innocent people can become the victims of faulty eyewitness testimony, bad forensics, and a variety of blinding cognitive biases on the part of law-enforcement personnel, prosecutors, and judges, and why the system so tenaciously defends the status quo, even when it’s guilty of railroading innocent citizens. Learn more about the bail bonds process here > Angel Hands Bail Bondsman in Miami