Why “Criminals” Should Have Rights, Pt 6

A great piece was posted today by Radley Balko on the 50th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court case Brady v. Maryland. Thanks to this case, prosecutors are obligated to disclose all exculpatory evidence in their possession.

As Balko explains, the case “may have been mostly symbolic and had little practical effect on the day-to-day justice system.” The article notes a study showing one in every six death penalty convictions contains Brady violations. A 2010 study from The Innocence Project shows that among DNA exonerees who allege prosecutorial misconduct, judges rule in 48% of those cases that prosecutors did commit errors, with 18% of those errors deemed “harmful.”

As of this writing, there have been 306 post-conviction DNA exonerations in the United States. This is a real problem. But if prosecutors and police aren’t held accountable for incompetence and corruption, it seems unlikely this problem will be resolved anytime soon.

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