"And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God"
-- Micah 6:8

"The duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict."
-- American Bar Association Standard 3-1.2(c)

"There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."
--Pope Benedict XVI, June 2004

Monday, April 30, 2007

I Wish My Car Were as Reliable

Colorado judge agrees: Wrongful conviction rate miniscule (he puts it at 0.000655%).

Even rabid defense attorney-turned-potboiler-author-turned-academic David Feige's reckoning would have us believe the error rate is only 0.5%; other reliable commentators, such as Josh Marquis, whose figures were cited in a SCOTUS case, would put the figure at no more than 0.027%.

What does it all mean? Our system, for all its flaws, is pretty close to perfect at assigning criminal blame: Feige's own numbers show that the system gets it right 99.5% of the time. The more likely figures from Marquis show reliability 99.973% accuracy, and the judge's figures show an overwhelming accuracy figure of 99.999345!

Any way you cut it, the system is nowhere near "broken" or "dysfunctional," to use descriptives often thrown around by the pro-criminal lobby.


William Newmiller said...

Actually, Judge Hoffman's math is suspect. Take a close look. He grants the possibility that 20% of trial verdicts could be wrong. He is right in suggesting that good statistics are hard to come by. See http://lawweb.colorado.edu/profiles/pubpdfs/furman/03SeptTCL-Furman.pdf for a reasoned commentary on the problem of determining the number of wrongful convictions. The problem of inaccuracy in criminal judgments is one that everyone can agree upon: we want to get the right guy.

Mark Bennett said...


I'm sorry I missed this the first time around.

I suspect - hope - that you wouldn't be okay with a 1 in 200 (Feige's guess) or 1 in 4,000 (Marquis's guess) or even 1 in 15,000 (Hoffman's guess, pretending that everyone who pleads guilty is factually guilty) chance that your car would burst into flames and immolate you every time you went for a drive.

By the way, your links in this post to Seeking Justice seem to be broken.