|Type of paper:||Case study|
Malcolm Alexander went to prison for 38 years for rape, which he was exonerated from by DNA evidence. Malcolm was convicted for the crime, following flawed identification procedures. The defence attorney was also negligent in providing appropriate legal assistance and defence. The crime in question was committed in 1979, November. The victim, the owner of an antique shop, was attacked in February 1980 from behind by an African American man who proceeded to assault her in a back room at gunpoint. Months later, Malcolm had a consensual encounter with a Caucasian lady who later demanded to be given money and accused him of rape. The incident was investigated ad dropped by enforcement officers but placed Alexander's image in a photo array shown to the antique shop rape victim during investigation. On the officers' account, the victim tentatively pointed out Malcolm's image, which prompted a physical line up a few days later. He was the only suspect from the photo array that was in the line-up, and the lead detective was absent for the line-up. The line-up report indicated a possible identification, but later, when the absent detective came in, they recorded the witness’s confidence in identification at 98 percent. By the time of trial, the victim was sure that Malcolm was the perpetrator.
While blood type testing of the rape kit that could have supported that identification or proven otherwise was available at the time, it was never sought. The lawyer failed to appear for proceedings and to file significant pleas, such as a counter-motion for the identification process. A transcript review of the trial shows that the attorney failed to make an opening statement, did not call any witnesses, vaguely cross-examined the witnesses about the identification, and his closing statement was a brief overview of the content in the transcript. Malcolm was convicted and sentenced for life imprisonment. Malcolm was later exonerated after DNA results from hair evidence found at the crime scene did not match the victim or Alexander.
Misidentification as a Cause of Wrongful Conviction
Flawed eyewitness identifications are the leading cause of wrongful convictions. Inaccurate eyewitness identification sets the tone of the case from the earliest stages. Malcolm's identification as the assailant involved an identification line-up, which is flawed in several ways. In a typical line-up, the administrator knows who the suspect is, and research reveals that they often give unintentional cues identifying the witness. Also, with no instructions, the witness assumes the assailant is among those presented in the line-up. Also, line-ups may consist of non-suspect fillers who do not match witness descriptions, and this causes certain suspects to stick out because of the structure of the line-up. In standard line-ups, a witness's confidence may be prone to influence by the information availed to them during the entire process of identification. The confidence level of the witness in Malcolm's case at the time of identification was not recorded until a later time when the lead administrator returned. The witness's level of confidence ought to be recorded at the time of identification. Traditional eyewitness ID procedures such as image identification and line ups are immensely inaccurate, as proven by Malcolm's case.
Countering Wrongful Convictions
Some of the steps to prevent or address wrongful convictions include exoneration, research, support and reform. Programs such as the Innocence project prove the innocence of individuals through post-conviction DNA testing, research on DNA testing litigations, and providing legal support for defendants represented by primary counsel. Through research, we can get a deeper understanding of patterns in wrongful convictions and present comprehensive analysis to support reform strategies. A key priority is to improve the reliability and accuracy of forensic research. It's vital to push for reforms for the system to consider broader scientific evidence, especially that which discredits past expert testimony and reinforces the oversight of forensic labs.
The provision of support for individuals after exoneration is crucial. It's vital to address the various specialized needs of these people upon release. Their needs can vary from seeking official documents, finding family members, securing housing, or critical psychological treatment or medical attention. Policy changes are essential to ensure the system serves all. Policy reforms ought to address the various concerns raised in these cases, such as misidentification, misapplication of scientific evidence, false confessions, and inadequate defence, among others. It's critical that we push for policies that protect individuals from wrongful arrests and convictions, ensure justice is served, avails enforcement officers with viable detective tools, and generally boost the public's confidence in the system.
Key Terms/Concepts From the Course
While serving his sentence, Malcolm had the right to counsel, meaning he had the right to lawyer or advocate representation and services.
The modern constitution guarantees the provision of legal services to all. This guarantees individuals legal representation and hearings. As such, Malcolm had the right of access to the court to present his case or pleasing regards to the case in question.
Rehabilitation programs is effective in preventing re-offence with immense benefits not only for convicts but also for the general public. While serving his sentence, Malcolm could have signed up for meaningful rehabilitation programs. This would be helpful in building his parole file.
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Exonerated After 38 Years: Malcolm Alexander's Wrongful Conviction - Case Study. (2023, Sep 12). Retrieved from https://speedypaper.com/essays/exonerated-after-38-years-malcolm-alexanders-wrongful-conviction
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