Individuals who are currently sitting in jail or prison in Virginia may have been wrongfully convicted. According to a study conducted by a research team at Pennsylvania University, roughly 6% of participants said that they were innocent of the charges against them. The team asked 3,000 prisoners in the state a series of questions such as why participants felt that they were wrongly convicted. Participants answered these queries anonymously over a period of six months.
The research team admitted concern that study subjects wouldn’t answer the questions or answer them honestly. However, they soon found that the vast majority took full or partial responsibility for their actions. The anonymous nature of the survey was cited as the reason why the response rate was so high. Furthermore, the study had controls in place to eliminate responses that were not likely to be plausible. Those who conducted the research say that the data it collected was only a starting point for determining how common wrongful convictions are.
It was noted that the study only looked at prisoners in Pennsylvania, but the researchers said that it could be a viable starting point for potential criminal justice reform. Finally, the team acknowledged that more research was needed as to whether a wrongful conviction rate of 6% was satisfactory or not.
An individual who is charged with a misdemeanor or a felony has the right to an attorney. A legal professional may be able to cast doubt on the government’s case against a defendant, and it may also be possible to ask that evidence be suppressed because of how it was obtained or because there is doubt about its authenticity. This might result in an acquittal or the case being dropped.