Prosecutors and Victims: Why Wrongful Convictions Matter

Bishop, Jeanne, Osler, Mark | January 1, 2015

Often, discussions of wrongful convictions focus almost entirely on the wrongfully convicted and ignore two important constituencies: prosecutors and crime victims. Both constituencies have unique connections to wrongful convictions and should be recognized as potentially powerful allies for change. Prosecutors are deeply committed to justice and to the outcomes of their cases; they can help identify and correct wrongful convictions and introduce policies to avoid wrongful convictions in the first place. Wrongful convictions matter to crime victims because convicting the wrong person leaves the real perpetrator free to commit more crimes, creates a new, innocent victim, and drains resources that could be devoted to victim services. The authors argue for a broader recognition of the strong interest prosecutors and crime victims have in avoiding wrongful convictions and a more robust role for both stakeholders in the discussion.