Some you may now be watching the new Netflix series on wrongful convictions, ‘The Innocence Files’. This new documentary considers the cases of individuals (young Black men in the first two episodes) convicted wrongly in the 1980s and 1990s in the US. It focuses on three areas: misuse of forensic evidence, false eyewitness testimony and prosecutorial misconduct. As TV-crime fans, we have all watched the storylines with police reluctant to re-open closed cases, evidence-handling blunders, or nefarious prosecutors. But the real-life experience of a miscarriage is devastating: Thomas Haynesworth, convicted at 18, served 27 years before he was acquitted and released due to DNA evidence. Twenty-seven of the best years.
The series highlights the risks of the adversarial court system, where the point-scoring cut-and-thrust between defence and prosecution can mean that, in the desire to win, the truth is lost. Justice requires convicting the guilty but also exonerating the innocent.
The opening episodes also illustrates how the criminal justice system is experienced differentially. Those who suffer miscarriages of justice are usually working class, often young and non-White, and lacking the social capital and legal representation required to ‘win’ in court.
Check it out: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt11958922/
© Natasha Mulvihill and Criminology Tales, 2020.