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WWL>Topics>>5-1 9:10am Tommy, innocents on death row?

5-1 9:10am Tommy, innocents on death row?

May 1, 2014|

Tommy talks to Samuel Gross, a Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School, about a study that says a surprising number of those sentenced to death are innocent

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

So we'll talk about the death penalty in your feelings on it. But first we're joined by Samuel grows a professor of law at the University of Michigan and is -- doctor grows -- prevent grows okay. I tell me about the study in how it is that you're able to determine one and 25 peoples sentenced to death were not guilty of the crime. Well what we did is we. Use the information we have all of those people who contend that the United States from 1973. Through 2004. Who were exonerated and released because. Businesses. And we. Use that to estimate. The proportion of everybody -- sensitive who would be exonerated if we took the side use these the type of extraordinary efforts that we devote to. Determining and the investigating the altered since the -- the people. Who -- Executions because a lot of people didn't throw. Are only there for awhile and then removed from the road sentenced to life imprisonment and once that happens. We don't care as much we don't put those -- as much effort to determine whether it might have been convicted there. And dubbed the the testament we come up with using -- statistical techniques that are generally used in medical researcher is 4% but 125 which. Was the brother part figured that I expected when it started work of the 1015 years ago. Because there's no way on disarmament the processing of for a moment the people for people -- -- numbers is no way he would be a political polling -- -- did -- Gallup poll or anything we can actually count every bodies so they are certain. Methods that are clearly approved by those that study statistics whereby you can extrapolate from them how many would have been and that's. It's so when they note that things like you know calculate. Life expectancy was the death rate from the disease. Say that if you get this but I if you get this disease. The chances the Dubai the next ten years or about 5% or 13% or whatever. The -- techniques that are used. -- that they depend on the quality of the information you have. As it happens for death sentences. We have exceptionally good probation compared to. The information we usually have about criminal justice. Statistics in the United States for the most part those. Statistics are very. For death sentence has been quite good so that's what we were able to come up with a good most of the. So how does I'd go with the and I guess we should cleared up announcing anything the constitution. Says that it's better for. One innocent one point five and Omega the numbers here Tony for guilty people would go free than one person be wrongly. Convicted and in this case executed that's not as I understand in the constitution and something that comes from. It's a tradition of American jurisprudence but it comes from England doesn't non. Did -- -- yet and the -- the constitutional. Requirement that that reflects that. It is the requirement of proof beyond reasonable doubt what that means is. That we're willing to say. What -- this person not guilty even though. There's very content is -- babies probably -- bit more likely than not that he's guilty. But working -- there on the side do. Is that because we want to avoid the greater harm of convicting an innocent person. This two did the disaster -- Not to convict him guilty person. And that can be. Quantify it is had -- one or 21 whatever. So it's -- constitutional requirement only in the sense that the constitution requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt. I would guess given that. They've put yourself in a room there in Philadelphia sweltering July day founding fathers there. Or put their vision together do you think. Executing one wrong person even it was just one not four out of a hundred would have been acceptable of them are. I don't think people of these terms Google and putting missiles that can the shoes of the founding fathers. Seventeen have design is really hard. Let's talk about just in the American system of -- jurisprudence is that acceptable. I don't think so I think I think it's very rate. That I think go what it means is that we should work very hard to prevent these errors but I think it's a higher rate. Even for people who were not executed because one of these. -- the findings the study. Is that most people core businesses and who were convicted of capital murder of our daughter executed in the not exonerated. That are the sentence to life in prison in the first place. Or there's been suggested that there be sentenced to life in prison later on. And then we basically forget about that though we don't devote the effort that the -- the body. To determine whether the mistake was made his deal of the consequences. That you -- spend the rest of your life in prison died in prison. Which is. Probably better than being killed by -- objections even -- the process goes well. Our I think that's questionable but that doesn't you argument for another day. But but it it is that there's not a whole lot that. But we do there is a huge difference. In the -- of exotic vacations for people who are sentenced to -- Well there. Still it under threat of execution. Compared to what happens after their be sentenced to life in prison -- I would guess that's because of pro Bono work because it is a capital case and that brings a tournament next question enemy in Iraq Cuba at a time it limited only gives many questions is -- can in her there's an. An old song that says you know those with a capital don't get the punishment. And I ask you this because where where do you socio economic factors figure and is this the best defense you can mount public defenders -- Are all. In the world do people. There. Basically. Devers sensitive. You could that you can use that may be water -- -- -- -- -- -- Some people that throws I'd say it's just possible that the water to put. And so do I haven't heard of -- And even middle class people or thirty cents to. That it is true -- crime and to grow and partly because. Of the circumstance the people's lives but it's also true that if you have the advantage is that. That I enjoyed you probably do. You'd like these to be treated better if you do -- trouble. Then. He elected to get to be able to afford private attorneys. You're. Like he'd be able to get more attention from prosecutors judges and I don't think is that there's no there's no secret about that everybody knows that the that having the advantage is the middle that bridge people is very useful would fall apart vote. And let me clear this up in no way am I am died defending murders are taken up for. Anybody kills anybody else but again my thing is all about obviously. Professor of law is getting the right person for the and I just wonder when it comes in capital cases is that all about the representation. That you can afford or does somehow perception from the jury. Fit and where where somehow away you'd presume it's mostly middle class people on the jury and as a result they might look at. Up or defended is somehow less than them less than human and that's why they would be more likely to hand out the death penalty then. Somebody who's a if for example was an engineer at a middle class job in and was providing for their families or something went terribly wrong. But I don't know that particular information that I don't generally. Studies that -- to do show. Did. Hoping they hired status. No -- -- economically federal background. Does help the sentencing capital cases but I don't know enough to say well. In in every state is visited two. Part process where there's -- trial and then there's a penalty things. Yet that that that they'll constitutional requirement yes. And that. And but the exact way it plays out can be very different in some states. Capital sentencing is done by judges only without trees and sub states there advisory injuries. In both states the injuries have the last word the process is quite different but it goes to separate procedure. Professor absolutely together anything you wanna add though I think a good question we very hard -- -- ever -- and as I've signed a -- find a way to thank you sir I appreciate your time. You have a good day professor Samuel Rosen professor blocked the.