The constitution allows persons accused of a crime to have a fair and speedy trial. Unfortunately, the criminal justice system does not always get it right.
A failure in the criminal justice process can result in a wrongful conviction of an innocent person, causing that person to be falsely imprisoned.
Reasons for wrongful conviction
Even the most fair-minded criminal prosecution can go wrong. The data shows that between 2% and 10% of all guilty findings are erroneous. Two of the most common reasons for wrongful convictions are false allegations and mistaken eyewitness testimony. Often the person making the accusation will also be the primary witness for the prosecution, leading to the inaccuracy of both critical pieces of evidence. Misconduct by the investigator or prosecutor is also a significant cause of false guilty findings. False confessions also lead to a large number of wrongful convictions.
Wrongful convictions in Florida
Florida is in the middle of the pack compared to other states regarding its false conviction rate for all crimes. However, Florida has had the most exonerations of people on death row than any other state. Florida also has the second largest number of inmates on death row. Approximately one in three death row prisoners had their convictions overturned between 1973 and 2020. Florida does compensate victims of wrongful convictions with payments of $50,000 per year for each year incarcerated.
Wrongful conviction is a significant problem in the criminal justice system. There are disparate impacts on marginalized groups who make up a higher percentage of the prison system.