Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

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Search results for "wrongful convictions" ...

  • Burned: A Story of Murder and the Crime That Wasn't

    The book revisits the murder conviction of Jo Ann Parks, sentenced to life in prison without parole for allegedly murdering her three young children in 1989by setting fire to her home and trapping them inside. In re-investigating the case, the author found flawed forensic science, false and contradictory testimony, and strong evidence of cognitive bias throughout the case, including use of an unreliable informant who later recanted, and sworn expert testimony that the fire began because Parks supposedly constructed a crude “incendiary device” by deliberately overloading a sabotaged electrical extension cord. Testing later proved the cord did not and could not start a fire. Information in the book has since been added to Parks’ existing habeas corpus petition filed by the California Innocence Project, now being considered by the state Supreme Court. Additional findings suggests the problems with flawed forensic science and cognitive bias in general, and in arson investigation in particular, is widespread and has led to other wrongful convictions. Correcting the use of flawed forensic and expert testimony is hindered by the legal system’s reliance on precedent, which slows and sometimes prevents the correction of scientifically dubious ideas used to win convictions. Nascent attempts to study and change this tendency to prolong the use of flawed forensic science initiated by the Obama Administration have been shut down by the Trump Administration.
  • Trading Away Justice

    Guilty pleas have become the go-to solution for the nation’s overburdened courts. They account for nine of every 10 convictions in the United States. But our near-total reliance on plea bargaining has created a parallel justice system -- one without the constitutional safeguards of trials, that operates largely in secret and with little oversight. Through case studies and data analysis, “Trading Away Justice” documents how even innocent defendants are being pressured into pleading guilty.
  • SB Tribune/ProPublica: Criminal Justice in Elkhart, Indiana

    Reports by the South Bend Tribune and ProPublica revealed deep flaws and abuses of power in the criminal justice system in Elkhart, Indiana -- from new revelations in the wrongful convictions of two innocent men, to the promotions of police supervisors with serious disciplinary records, to the mishandling of police misconduct cases -- and led to the resignation of the police chief, an independent investigation of the department and criminal charges against two officers.
  • Wrongful convictions and other miscarriages of justice

    The Medill Justice Project examines miscarriages of justice and potentially wrongful convictions, highlights problems in the criminal justice system, such as the reliability of eyewitness identification, and raises questions about the validity of the diagnoses of shaken-baby syndrome and medical child abuse in its investigations across the country. http://www.medilljusticeproject.org/
  • System Failure

    An innocent man spends 6 years in prison for the murder of his infant daughter. It was never a crime to begin with. The forensic science used to convict him was flawed. It’s another example of the shoddy work of a Minnesota medical examiner we have investigated and reported on since early 2010. We continued our coverage this year with 2 more stories. One features an in-depth look at the case of the man wrongfully convicted of killing his child who was set free after a review of the evidence. The other examines the mysterious death of an Army National guardsman and the lack of a thorough investigation by the medical examiner to find the true cause of the soldier’s death.
  • Wrongful Convictions

    The Medill Justice Project examines wrongful convictions, and in their investigations in 2014 they unearthed revelatory information that raised questions about the reliability of eyewitness identification, the truth in confessions and the validity of expert medical testimonies in murder cases across the country.
  • Hartman Justice Project

    Recent developments in Alaska Innocence Project’s battle for exoneration of the so-called Fairbanks Four, a largely Athabaskan group of men serving sentences ranging from 33-75 years for John Hartman’s 1997 murder. O'Donoghue has been dogging, with the help of undergraduate students, what now appears to wrongful convictions in this case for more years than I care to count, exposing many flaws in a police investigation drawing direction from drunken confessions, trials sporting lying witnesses and racist prosecutorial branding, jury misconduct that (briefly) overturned one verdict in 2004.
  • When lies lead to wrongful convictions

    The story follows the case of Sammy Hadaway, a 38-year-old Milwaukee man who suffers from brain damage, cerebral palsy and epilepsy. In 1996, Hadaway testified against his friend Chaunte Ott in a high-profile murder case, claiming that both had played a part in Jessica Payne’s death. Due in large part to Hadaway’s testimony, Ott was convicted of the murder and was sentenced to a lifelong prison term. Hadaway was convicted of a lesser charge in exchange for his cooperation.
  • Errors in Judgment: The Consequences of Prosecutorial Mistakes

    The Texas Tribune analyzed 86 overturned convictions, finding that in nearly one quarter of those cases courts ruled that prosecutors made mistakes that often contributed to the wrong outcome. The multi-part series explored the causes and consequences of prosecutorial errors and whether reforms might prevent future wrongful convictions.
  • Intersecting Lives

    Twenty years after a Kansas man was wrongfully convicted of a rape, a Lawrence Journal-World investigation revealed the real rapist, finally bringing closure to the victim and the wrongfully convicted man.