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Editor: Nagaraja.M.R.. Vol.09..Issue.19….….10/05/2014
Notice to CJI Justice R M Lodha
New data suggest more than 340 U.S. inmates that could have been exonerated have been sentenced to death since 1973
DINA FINE MERON, SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN
Just how many individuals on death row are incorrectly convicted? The question has dogged attorneys and civil rights advocates for years, but a simple answer is almost impossible because few wrongful cases are ever overturned. A new analysis is adding a level of much-needed detail, and it concludes that more than twice as many inmates were wrongly convicted and sentenced to death than have been exonerated and freed.
Borrowing a statistical method often used to evaluate whether new medical therapies help patients survive, a team of researchers has concluded that about 4.1 percent of criminal defendants who are sentenced to death are falsely convicted. The approach allows researchers to “actually come up with a valid estimate of the rate of false convictions—knowing something that people say [in criminal justice] is not knowable,” says study author Samuel Gross, a law professor at the University of Michigan Law School and editor of the National Registry of Exonerations, a U.S.-focused exoneration database. What makes the analysis possible is that data on the potential need for exoneration from death penalty cases come to light more often than it does for other types of criminal proceedings. All death sentences in the U.S. are based on crimes that include homicide.
The study, led by a team of lawyers and statisticians, examined data on both 7,482 defendants who were given death sentences between 1973 and 2004 and death row exonerations during that time. By applying survival analysis—a statistical method often used to calculate how well new treatments help patients survive—they determined how often a prisoner under threat of execution was exonerated. The method usually tracks patients to see if a new therapy prolongs the period of time until a person dies from the illness in question but it can also be applied to policy questions that have clear end points. In this study the end point of tracking was exoneration (being found innocent and freed) or the actual execution. “Survival” was defined as remaining in prison. The “therapy” here would be removal of the threat of execution.
Here’s how their analysis works. It says that if all death-sentenced defendants remained under this sentence indefinitely, as opposed to being taken off death row due to being resentenced to life in prison or their fate being artificially cut off by the study ending, then 4.1 percent of those prisoners would have otherwise been exonerated. (And being exonerated and freed by legal action here is used as the best proxy for innocence.) The analysis also takes into account other occurrences such as suicide or death of a prisoner from natural causes. The number of false convictions among the death-sentenced has been particularly hard to estimate, Gross says, because many prisoners who are on death row are eventually moved off of it but remain in prison, which often reduces their chances of exoneration.
The issue affects a significant number of people. Since 1973 144 death-sentenced defendants have been exonerated in the U.S. But Gross says that the analysis indicates that at least 340 people would have been put to death unjustly in that same time period. “There are no other reliable estimates of the rate of false conviction in any context,” the researchers wrote in the study, published online on April 28 inProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The researchers also note that a 4.1 percent rate of false conviction is conservative, given that separate calculations gauging the accuracy of the assumptions that took an even more conservative stance—assuming that people who were executed had zerochance of false conviction and that the chances of exoneration after retrial would be twice that of people on death row—would still produce a larger figure than their 4.1 percent estimate. Although their analysis does not include data after 2004, the researchers note that they doubt that the use of DNA identification technology would have much impact on false conviction rates—because DNA evidence is primarily used in cases such as rape rather than homicide. Only about 13 percent of death row exonerations have resulted from DNA testing.
For more on death penalty considerations, see Scientific American’s editorial in the May edition of the magazine that details how the use of drugs to carry out capital punishment is inadvertently putting medical patients at risk.
Statistical study estimates that some 4% of US death-row prisoners are innocent.
The chances of exoneration increase the longer a person remains on death row, according to a study.
At least one in 25 people on death row in the United States would be exonerated if given enough time, researchers have found. The study, which used statistical methods to extrapolate from available data, is one of the first to try to quantify the rate of false convictions.
The work attempts to shed light on a notoriously difficult task: gauging the number of people falsely convicted of crimes. Few convictions result in an exoneration, most of those convicted never manage to prove their innocence and many cases do not have their final outcomes recorded, so data are not available to researchers. Innocent people also frequently plead guilty in the hope of reducing their sentence, effectively eliminating themselves from any analysis. Therefore, quantifying exonerations is the only way to get a glimpse of the extent of wrongful convictions, says lead author Samuel Gross, a criminologist at the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor.
Gross and his colleagues analysed the rate of exonerations among prisoners on death row, whose outcomes are carefully tracked by the US Bureau of Justice Statistics in Washington DC. In a previous report, the researchers found that less than 0.1% of prison sentences are death sentences, yet capital cases accounted for 12% of exonerations between 1989 and 2012. Gross attributes the disparity to the tendency of lawyers and courts to work harder to definitively determine guilt when a person’s life is on the line.
But many death sentences are never carried out. Courts often change a convict’s sentence to life imprisonment, or the accused dies from suicide or natural causes while on death row. To determine what would have happened to these prisoners had they remained there, Gross’s team relied on a statistical method known as a survival curve, which is commonly used in epidemiology to measure the number of people in a population who die from a specific cause over a certain period, and so extrapolate the rate of deaths for longer periods of time.
- Faulty forensic science under fire
- Forensic investigation needs more science
- Eyewitness identification: Line-ups on trial
The longer a person stayed on death row, the team found, the higher the chance that he or she would be exonerated. Furthermore, the researchers calculated that if all of those sentenced to death were kept on death row indefinitely without being executed, receiving a life sentence or dying of another cause, at least 4.1% would eventually be exonerated. That number still underestimates the rate of false convictions, Gross says, because many innocent people never manage to prove their innocence.
Because a longer death row stint means a greater chance of exoneration, people who are put to death quickly after their convictions could be more likely to have been innocent than the population of convicts as a whole — likely because there has not been as much time for subtler pieces of evidence to come to light.
According to James Liebman, a lawyer at Columbia Law School in New York City who was not involved in the study, the statistics suggest something of a paradox. Often a convict is lucky enough to have his death sentence commuted to life in prison, by a state governor for example, because of lingering doubt about his guilt. But because fewer people with life sentences are exonerated, Liebman says, “that luck will be bad luck because there’s a lesser change of having that error discovered.”
04 February 2014
23 August 2012
21 May 2008
Editorial : PIL – DEATH PENALTY RIGHT OR WRONG ? ABLOLISH DEATH PENALTY
– AN APPEAL TO H.E.Honourable PRESIDENT OF INDIA & HONOURABLE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
WHY DO WE KILL PEOPLE WHO KILL PEOPLE TO TELL PEOPLE THAT KILLING PEOPLE IS BAD ???
Just consider the following facts persons convicted in rarest of rare cases that of Assassinating a former prime minister of india are commuted to life sentence & within hours released by state government of Tamil Nadu. Where as some convicts convicted in heinous crimes but not heinous or rarest of rare like PM Rajiv Gandhi assassination were hanged without alternatives like commuting their sentances to life term.
Poor , tribal people in chattisgarh , Andhra Pradesh , Jharkhand & other states infested with terrorism / naxalism (even without any material incriminating evidences) are charged with charges like giving food , cloth & medical aid to terrorists / naxalites, therby waging war against the nation . Those poor tribals rae put behind bars and tried under draconian laws like TADA , POTA , MOCA , etc. Where as movie star Sanjay Dutt who knowing fully well the intentions kept deadly arms in his house . Arms were given to him by master minds of Mumbai attacks. Initially he was booked under TADA , then TADA charges were dropped and awarded a lesser prison term than actually deserved. Further , he is getting paroles week after week which other ordinary prisoners are unable to get even once.
Consider the case of Bhopal Gas Tragedy , the company & top most officials were well aware of safety procedural lapses in the Bhopal plant , still continued the operations. When the accident happened slaughtering thousands & maiming lakhs of people , the government first charged the head of the company with charges of man slaughter. Afterwards , he was arrested but stealthily facilitated to escape to his home country literally flown out by the police , chief minister of the government. Subsequently chief Justice of India dropped man slaughter charges against him & filed lenient charges against him making the way for lenient punishment in future (JUDGEMENT FIXING). CJI benefitted from it ? Paradoxically after retirement , CJI became head of the trust controlling crores of rupees monitoring the rehabilitation of Bhopal gas victims.
In this context it is quite pertinent to note that In India with money power , right political connections any crime can be done & be scot free . In India Legal system is for Sale , Judicial orders can be manipulated. The convict in a case may be an innocent without recourse to right connections & legal aid. So , one cann’t be 100% sure whether the death convict has actually committed the crime.
A criminal is not born, but made by social circumstances. For the crime
scenario in India , every citizen of India is indirectly responsible.
Our present inefficient, corrupt legal system , is wholly dependent on
evidences which a rich criminal can create or destroy at his sweet
will. Police forcibly take confessions from the accussed , by applying
3rd degree torture methods. Some of the judges are literally auctioning
” judicial orders” for bribe. Due to all these reasons one cann’t be
100% sure about one criminal’s conviction. In such cases, capital
punishment will be unfair & inhuman. It must be made mandatory, in all
death penalty cases that polygraph, lie detector tests, etc must be
conducted on ” death convicts ” , to know whether they are innocent or
guilty inspite of hostile evidences. Fundamentally, the capital
punishment has failed
as a deterrent.
The people who clamour for continuance of death penalty are BIASED,
INHUMAN, BUTCHERS & CANIBALS. Why don’t they ask for death penalty to
policemen, who murder people through 3rd degree torture, in lock-ups &
fake encounters ? why don’t they ask for death penalty to corrupt
judges who sells judicial orders for bribe ? why don’t they ask for
death penalty to builders who cause building collapses, resulting in
mass murders ? why don’t they ask for death
penalty to corrupt government doctors who refuses to treat poor patient
without bribe, causing the murder of poor patient ? why don’t they ask
for death penalty to industrialist/ traders who sell adulterated food
items, spurious drugs/ medicines, in turn causing mass murders ? why
don’t they ask for death penalty to corrupt government officials , who
help criminals, industrialists? Why don’t they ask for death penalty to
politicians who create communal & other riots, who have ties with
foreign intelligence agencies, terrorist outfits ? Why don’t they ask
for death penalty to mole in the P.M.O & the senior officers of
National Security Council who passed on national secrets ? Why don’t
they ask for death penalty to public servants , ministers who gave aid
, support to terrorist outfits like L.T.T.E out of government of india
coffers , killing hundreds of srilankans , tamils ?
These are the guilty persons , criminals who don’t personally ,
directly murder human beings but cunningly murder hundreds which go
unnoticed by any. For the person who barbarically murders one human
being you prescribe CAPITAL PUNISHMENT but for those who murder
hundreds you say nothing why ? THEY WON’T ASK FOR IT, BECAUSE MOST OF
THE PERSONS WHO ARE DEMANDING DEATH PENALTY ARE BIASED, SELFISH &
BELONG TO ONE OF THE SECTIONS OF CRIMINALS MENTIONED ABOVE. They lack
Death penalty is the ultimate . cruel , inhuman and degrading
punishment. It violates the right to life Article 1 of universal
declaration of human rights. It is irrevocable , prone to judicial
errors and can be inflicted on innocents. It has never been shown to
deter crime more effectively than other punishments. In most of the
countries including india , judicial system is ineffective ,
inefficient to prosecute impartially both poor & rich criminals. Those
condemned to death penalty mostly come from poor background who are
unable to afford wise & articulate Advocates who can efficiently argue
their case. Against these poor accussed , the criminal nexus of
police-criminal-bureaucrat builds up fake evidences , extracts forced
confessions by 3rd degree torture. Most of death convicts world over
belongs to either poor , TRIBALS , DALITS , etnic minorities ,
political dissidents , children , mentally ill. No rich & mighty
criminal is ever prosecuted let alone hanged.
The judicial system which depends on technical facts like evidences
lacks sense to figure out truth out of fake evidences , also as judges
are human beings they are prone to err. Add to this corruption in
judiciary. Death penalty is irreversible & irrevocable. In a mature
democracy like U.S.A with relatively efficient judicial system itself
hundreds of cases of death convicts were found to be wrong , convicts
were found to be innocents upon review & were let free. Where as in
india , the accussed lacks the wherewithal to argue his case in the
first place then how can he arrange for case review ? no judge is god ,
if a hanged person is found to be innocent the judge doesn’t has the
ability to bring back the hanged person to life , do such judges have
right to snatch away lives ?
Hereby HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH’S Urges H.E . PRESIDENT OF INDIA & HONOURABLE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA ,
1. to stay all death penalties until equitable criminal justice system
with respect to above mentioned rich & mighty criminals is put into
2. until death penalty is abolished, to make poly graph, lie detector
tests mandatory for all death convicts in a free & fair manner by a
neutral authority , to ascertain whether the convict is really guilty
or innocent of the alleged crime .
3. until death penalty is abolished , to give a peaceful choice of
death to the death convicts like sleeping pill, injection, gun shot,
etc instead of medieval & barbaric ” death by hanging”.
4. finally, to abolish death penalty from statuette books.
JAI HIND. VANDE MATARAM.
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