1000 Wrongfully Convicted and Counting: New Registry Checks Justice System's Power

If you were wrongfully convicted of a crime, how would you fight the system? 16-year-old Arthur Carmona and his mom, Ronnie Sandoval, spent years doing just that.

“He wanted to fight. He said, 'I’m not signing shit. If I can’t prove I’m innocent then I’m going to die in here,'” says Ronnie of her son. She fought tirelessly to get Arthur out of prison after he was wrongfully convicted of 12 counts of armed robbery.

“I’m disgusted with what they did to my son,” Ronnie says, “it was as simple as him walking out the door to go play video games and he stepped into the Twilight Zone, and it followed him for all the days of his life.”

How did Arthur get thrown in prison for a crime he didn’t commit? Rob Warden, director of Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions, says it’s not uncommon.

“Every case that we look at is different,” says Warden, “but there are common elements and there are things that seem to transcend them.” Warden helped develop a project to raise awareness about wrongful convictions, and bring about change. The National Registry of Exonerations was released earlier this year and documents over a thousand cases of exonerations in the US.

“Our great hope for the registry is [that it will] provide data that will fortify arguments for reform,” Warden says.

The registry also provides reasons why the exonerees were wrongfully convicted such as false confessions, errors with eyewitness testimony and a phenomenon called “tunnel vision.”


“It’s very difficult to exonerate someone,” Warden says, “you find that once you are convicted of a crime, the evidence that it takes to exonerate you just has to be far greater than the evidence that it took to convict you in the first place.”

Yet Warden hopes the registry will highlight these systemic problems with the justice system and help free the wrongfully convicted still behind bars.

About 8 minutes.

Written and produced by Tracy Oppenheimer. Camera by Paul Detrick and Zach Weissmueller.

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  • d||

    Just watched the Phillip Howard TED talk. These are the people we're supposed to trust with the authority to do the right thing and interpret the law correctly? Nah, I'll take anarchy over this shit or Howard's utopia of magnanimous authority figures and a nebulous statements of "principles".

  • d||

    And...1st, bitches!

  • Almanian.||

    SOFT.

    ON.

    CRIME.

  • CE||

    Death of man in police custody was ruled a homicide by the coroner:

    http://www.latimes.com/news/lo.....2696.story

    In the Ramirez case, the medical examiner's report gives the cause of death as "asphyxia from active prone restraint."

    Oxnard police said emergency medical personnel were standing by as officers futilely tried to calm Ramirez. When he would not cooperate, they struggled to place him in handcuffs and leg restraints so he could be treated...

    Whitney said the department disagrees with the coroner's report.

    "We've seen very similar circumstances, where situations like this have been ruled an accident or undetermined," he said.

    Fortunately, stuff like this doesn't happen every day....

  • Almanian.||

    ISOLATED.

    INCIDENT.

  • ||

    New professionalism!

  • Disgusted Dem||

    For those interested in learning more about how psychology comes into play with false convictions, you may want to Google Elizabeth Loftus. She is the psychologist who devised a number of experiments which showed that it's very easy to manipulate the memories of eyewitnesses. And then there was the experiment of Saul Kassin who was able to convince subjects that they were responsible for damaging a computer when in fact they were innocent. This work of Kassin was expanded into a television program devised by illusionist Derren Brown in which Brown manipulated a person into believing he was guilty of murder.

  • Carston||

    "it's very easy to manipulate the memories of eyewitnesses"

    Especially when the witness is being threatened with obstruction for not agreeing with the interrogator.

  • IceTrey||

    Derren Brown is scary.

  • mr lizard||

    I'll gladly trade the judicial branch and all of law enforcement for robots programmed with the constitution. Btw in a win for my freedom

  • mr lizard||

    A friend of mine learned about the wonders of the state when she got screwed out of unemployment for a brief layoff. Granted I would've picked a different lesson, but she has suddenly bought into all my rants and raves

  • joey89924||

    When he would not cooperate, they struggled to place him in handcuffs and leg restraints so he could be treated.. S8050

  • ||

    "....it’s not uncommon."

    No shit.

  • Jake W||

    Move along, citizens, nothing to see here. These well trained doctors with years of experience don't know as much as the kids who got picked on in high school gym class 'restraining' him safely.

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  • SeekJustice1||

    I was falsely accused and convicted of Indecent Liberties with a Minor. The child confesses to me that he was sorry and his own mother made him lie, ALL ON AUDIO TAPE, yet it was hidden from the jury. Yes, hidden. I had another charge of Intimidation of a States Witness which was used to cover the confession up. I want to get my convictions overturned so I can have my life back. Read the case on my website. You will be outraged!

    Look at the photo in the petition. It will clearly show you that my lawyer had the tape and hid it from the jury. Yet, he was ruled to be effective counsel. I want you look on the Victim Impact tab. You will see a statement written by the boys mother 2 weeks before trial. In the statement, she admits her son feels like he is wrong. Please sign and share all of my petitions under the petitions tab. Read my site www.falseconvictions.com. My lawyer actually did hide evidence.

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