Center on Wrongful Convictions

by Geoffrey Redick, producer

None of us believes the criminal justice system works perfectly. But few of us, perhaps, imagine the extent to which the system is corrupted by the people who are sworn to protect us. Too often, police, prosecutors, and judges strive for convictions — instead of justice — and that leads to a dangerous tendency to ignore the cases where the eivdence just doesn’t fit, where the accused are actually innocent. The work of the Center on Wrongful Convictions, and the other organizations like it, shows how often the verdicts of the courts are wrong. Rob Warden has been focused on the courts for decades, first as an investigative reporter, and now as the Executive Director of the Center. He says that even in the face of conflicting DNA evidence, prosecutors often refuse to admit their mistakes. In some cases, evidence is even withheld to preserve the conviciton, and the result is that an innocent person languishes in prison. Warden has several ideas for reforming the criminal justice system, including holding prosecutors civilly liable for negligence and reforming the ways police interview suspects. We’ll also hear from Sage Smith, the Director of Client Services at the Center. He spent almost thirty years in prison, much of that time as a law clerk for inmates on death row. Now he helps the newly exonerated transition back into society. What should frighten everyone about the issue of wrongful convictions is how easy it is to end up in prison, even if you’re innocent. All it takes is knowing someone who gets murdered, or getting picked out of a line up. Then, after hours of interrogation and a false confession, your fate is all but sealed. That’s what happened to Johnnie Lee Savory, one of the people we’ll hear from today.


Rob Warden’s latest book is True Stories of False Confessions.

Click here for a list of exonerations throughout the United States.

Click here for a list of other innocence organizations.



4 Replies to “Center on Wrongful Convictions”

  1. I still remember this story from two weeks ago — the story was a chilling one, and reminded me of a neighbor that was wrongfully convicted when I was a child. At the time, i did not understand how the system was so stacked against the poor and people of color, and as a child-spectator, I could not believe it was happening.. Like Mr. Savory, my neighbor spent a good portion of his young life imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. Thank you for bringing Mr. Savory's story to light, and the work of the Center. This story moved me to send a note to the governor to do his part, and to send a link of this story to several friends. Keep up the good work on your show, Bob.

  2. All fair minded people had better get the strength and conviction to fight miscarriages of justice since wrongful conviction is on the rise. There are many reasons for this happening but public apathy allows this to happen over and over.. When you see something that you know is wrong, get involved and help make the correction before this happens to you or someone you love and no one comes to your aid. Ask yourself the simple question. Why does it take so many years to allow the truth to be found and heard? Justice should not be only for those that can pay a hefty price! Please go to FREEPAULCORTEZ.ORG. and watch the video that details this injustice and join the fight to correct wrongful convictions.

  3. Thanks for giving the issue of wrongful convictions attention. I listened to the interviews with Rob Warden and Johnnie Lee Savory this morning as I traveled to visit my son, who is serving 31 years in a Colorado prison for a murder he didn't commit. Martin Luther King would say that the arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice. Johnnie's case–and those of many others who have been exonerated–says something about how long justice can take. Tragically, for many justice never comes.

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