US report pinpoints police and prosecutor abuse during investigations

A demonstration in Lancaster (Pennsylvania) on September 13 to protest the death of Ricardo Munoz during a police intervention.

The American police have been in the hot seat for months for their methods of arrest, but according to a report, made public Tuesday, September 15, the police also commit numerous irregularities during the investigations, just as serious consequences.

Researchers went through the files of nearly 2,500 people who had been found guilty of wrongful convictions over the past thirty years and found that illegal or unethical conduct by police officers, as well as prosecutors, had contributed to more of the crime. half of those miscarriages of justice.

Their most common fault: the concealment of exculpatory evidence, at stake in 61% of mistaken murder convictions, but also pressure on witnesses, false testimony during trials, the stash of drugs among suspects … indicates the report of “National Registry of Exonerations”, a project of Irvine (California) and Michigan universities.

African Americans more victims of excessive use of force

Regarding the excessive use of force, denounced during giant demonstrations, African Americans are more victims of such abuses than white suspects, especially in murder cases or drug cases, noted the authors of the report.

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And as for the mistakes during arrests, these behaviors have little consequences for their perpetrators: only 17% of abuses that have led to a miscarriage of justice were followed by sanctions, they write.

On the other hand, they are heavy for the victims: people wrongly convicted of murder spent on average 13.9 years in prison before being cleared.

Among them, Michael Morton spent nearly 25 years in a Texas prison for the murder of his wife before being finally found innocent. According to the authors of the report, during the trial, the prosecutor had presented neither the testimony of their three-year-old son who exonerated his father, nor of neighbors who spotted a suspicious man in front of their house. In 2011, DNA analyzes identified the real culprit who, in the meantime, had killed another woman.

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Change “culture”

For researchers, calls to reform the police must therefore take this problem into account. Among other things, they suggest making the recording of all interrogations compulsory or clarifying the procedures for keeping physical evidence.

It is also, according to them, to change ” Culture “ which pushes the police and prosecutors to the fault. In cases of murder, “They are under pressure” to find the culprits: “If a case cannot be resolved quickly, the authorities may be tempted to cut it short” mostly “If they are convinced to hold the culprit”, they point out.

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The World with AFP


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