Signed, Justice Wants
Wrongful Conviction Day
October 2nd marks the seventh annual International Wrongful Conviction Day, a day to raise awareness of the causes of wrongful convictions and to recognize and acknowledge the tremendous personal, social, economic, and emotional costs of wrongful convictions for innocent people and their families around the world.
Please join Wrongful Convictions News™ in our Wrongful Conviction Day campaign to "Eliminate Qualified Immunity--Because NO ONE should be above the law"
This petition lays out 7 advancements toward justice that need immediate action.
1. Elimination of qualified immunity for all government players. First and foremost, prosecutors, judges, and law enforcement, but also all those under the qualified immunity umbrella. This group includes mayors, governors, medical board inspectors, prison guards, school administrators, and everyone who is in the business of enforcing laws and government regulations, including private individuals who act jointly with government officials.
2. Employment and discipline record transparency of all government players.
3. Accountability for misconduct at all levels; including but not limited to employment sanctions, monetary penalties, and/or criminal charges.
4. An updated Miranda warning to include that law enforcement is permitted, even encouraged at times, to deceive suspects and/or witnesses in order to solicit a desired response.
5. Require prosecutors to carry malpractice insurance to cover prosecutorial misconduct so the state, i.e., taxpayers, doesn't have to foot the bill for the prosecutor's misdeeds.
6. All police officers must wear audio/video body cameras, which cannot be disabled. These devices will be live-streamed and automatically recorded to an external site over which no one in the law enforcement entity has any control or access to keep them from being lost, damaged, or edit.
7. All law agencies must record interrogations, interviews, questionings, examinations, probing, disclosures, and/or confessions, with both audio/video, and said recordings will automatically be uploaded to an external site over which no one in the law enforcement entity has any control or access, to keep the footage from being lost, damaged, or edited.
Although it has been in the forefront more so lately, it has always been known that the United States has a systemic police brutality problem because of its racist culture and racism undertones. That is to say, if there were a way to remove racism from the law enforcement/civilian interaction, would there still be the same amount of police brutality? The statistics and empirical research say not. And even in the most extreme cases of police brutality, excessive force, and deadly force, law enforcement is rarely held accountable. Why is that? In large part because of the qualified immunity doctrine created by the Supreme Court in 1967.
So why would they create such a thing?
Following a long, disturbing history of law enforcement violating the rights of people of color, Congress passed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1871, giving all Americans the right to sue public officials who violate their civil rights. However, the Supreme Court later created a doctrine known today as qualified immunity that led to the dismissal of most of these civil rights lawsuits. The Supreme Court first introduced the qualified immunity doctrine in 1967, originally with the rationale of protecting law enforcement officials from frivolous lawsuits and financial liability in cases where they acted in good faith in unclear legal situations.
Subsequently, starting around 2005, courts increasingly began applying the doctrine to cases involving the use of excessive or deadly force by police. This, in turn, led to widespread criticism that it, in the words of a 2020 Reuters report, "has become a nearly failsafe tool to let police brutality go unpunished and deny victims their constitutional rights."
To be clear, the qualified immunity doctrine is not part of any law passed by Congress, nor is it mentioned in the Constitution. It was conceived by the Supreme Court and its application has expanded during Chief Justice John Roberts' tenure, which began in 2005. However, Justice Clarence Thomas, one of the Courts most ardent conservatives, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a liberal, have both criticized qualified immunity on separate grounds. Sotomayor has even been quoted as saying, "[Qualified Immunity] tells officers that they can shoot first and think later, and it tells the public that palpably unreasonable conduct will go unpunished."
Recent rulings on qualified immunity have encountered intense criticism and as of June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court has denied hearing any cases pertaining to qualified immunity, which shields police from lawsuits. Basically, the Supremes made this mess and now they are turning their backs and refusing to deal with it.
Causes of Wrongful Convictions
- Eyewitness Misidentification
- Jailhouse Snitches
- Invalided Forensics
- Inept Defense
- Prosecutorial Misconduct
- False Accusations
- Coerced Confessions
- Crimes that Never Occurred
- Coerced Corroboration
- Jury Misconduct
Plus: Bail Reform and Plea Bargains
"It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong." -Thomas Sowell
BREAKING NEWS: A new report (September 1, 2020) from the National Registry of Exonerations finds alarming levels of police and prosecutor misconduct in convictions of innocent people in the United States. Read the report: https://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Documents/Government_Misconduct_and_Convicting_the_Innocent.pdf
To learn more about Wrongful Conviction Day, go to https://wrongfulconvictionday.org/
To learn more about wrongful convictions, go to https://www.innocenceproject.org/
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