Going beyond ‘innocent until proven guilty’

As this inquiry project is proceeding, so is the amount of information about this topic. I have found different articles who are arguing that ‘innocent until proven guilty’ is in fact ‘guilty until proven innocent’ while others argue that is ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ As I’ve read articles, I realized that it is important to understand that each author has it biased information that will entice the reader to agree with their article.

The first article I found was from TedTalks, 6 talks on the phenomena behind wrongful convictions. I really liked this article because it talked about how many people have been convicted as a result of wrong “evidence.” Scott Fraser, a forensic psychologist, explains that sometimes evidence can be swayed by our own mind. The writer focuses on how convictions can be wrongful and how things should change. This article relates to my topic because being proven innocent takes much evidence and sometimes there isn’t enough evidence in your favor which causes you to be seen guilty. This article goes further into my question about evidence not being enough or how do we know what is enough evidence. While reading this article, it made me wonder how many cases had been convicted for something they didn’t commit and how much evidence it took to convict them? These questions correlate with my previous questions on how much is enough evidence. I feel like maybe I should look into how witnesses have an affect on evidence. Although I really liked this article, I did realize that the writer’s frame was only towards those who were convicted with wrongful evidence, but what about those who weren’t convicted without/with wrongful evidence?

The second article I found, from the library, that seemed very interesting to me was Debating the Precautionary Principle: “Guilty until Proven Innocent” or “Innocent until Proven Guilty”?. I thought it was very interesting because it focused on the difference between the two statements from above while relating it to plant physiology. Henk van den Belt, the author of this article, presents a question that I believe relates to my topic of evidence, “We cannot consider GMOs harmless until the absence of harmful effects is fully proven.” What I think he is saying is that without evidence being fully proven, you cannot consider someone guilty or innocent. Going back to evidence, how are we able to prove such evidence, if it’s already used against the suspect? How do we know that the evidence proves anything? The writer’s frame here focuses on how we expect more and more proof just so that we don’t convict someone who is innocent; the writer also focuses on the “inevitable trade-off involved in the design of our system of criminal justice.” This relates to my topic because evidence is something we heavily rely on to prove that someone isn’t guilty or innocent. I think for this topic we should also look at how the criminal justice has evolved/changed throughout the years. 

The third article I found that questions the presumption of innocence is Criminal Labels, the European Convention on Human Rights and the Presumption of Innocence. This article really intrigued me because the author talks about how presumption shouldn’t be applied until after the person is charged. The author states that “though a high standard of proof does not prescribe precisely how people should be treated, a primary reason for this second element of the presumption is to guard against illegitimate convictions, given that the conviction and punishment of an innocent person is deemed to cause more harm than the avoidance of liability by a guilty person,” I really like how the author points out the the proof we find about the individual shouldn’t be a way for us to write them off with whatever label. This article touches my topic on how people aren’t really free after they are set free because before the case even ends people have already judged them from the start. I found that maybe I should focus on why people are so quick to judge other people. This article really focused on the judgement of people and the how presumption of innocence should be the goal.

The final article I found was Why our justice system convicts innocent people, and the challenges faced by innocent projects trying to exonerate them. Krieger, the author, writes about the difficulties with trying to prove your innocence in our justice system. He states that we really don’t know how many people who are convicted are truly innocent or the other way around. Krieger looks into how we’ve become very reliable on DNA testing to prove innocence or guilty. He gives an example of how a man was convicted because he matched the description of the suspect, he continues to show how this case was not fair in any way shape or form. From this I question, whether our “justice system” is really on our side or are they against us from the get go? I also wonder if our justice system is truly just? This applies to my topic of evidence and how evidence isn’t fair or enough to convict someone. The writer’s frame is focused on the wrongdoing of evidence and how innocent people continue to be convicted of crimes they didn’t commit.

2 thoughts on “Going beyond ‘innocent until proven guilty’

  1. Pingback: UWRT 1103

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