Tag Archives: Center of Wrongful Convictions
Today I drove to Lafayette High School and watched a class participate in a video- conference- something I’ve only done over videoconference before. It was pretty cool- for a couple of reasons. It was neat to be in the room with the students, as they… kind of thawed out as the time progressed. They clearly weren’t sure what to make of the whole situation. However, they attentively listened to Rob Warden speak about wrongful convictions. Rob Warden is the Executive Director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions, out of Northwestern Law School. What Rob had to say was really fascinating. He talked about how and why people confess to crimes they didn’t commit- and how it happens more often than we’d like. (The students at Lafayette had recently read a book about a teenager falsely confessing to a crime he didn’t commit).
Rob Warden talked about the “blackout” method- where suspects are convinced (by law enforcement, during interrogation) that they must have blocked out the memory of committing the actual crime. Rob emphasized, too, that he didn’t think people went into law enforcement or criminal justice just to convict people of crimes they didn’t necessarily commit- he felt that sometimes law enforcement concentrates so hard on solving the crime, they can zero in on someone who seems to be a good suspect. They’ll ask the suspect to describe how (s)he would have committed the crime, which in turn can convince a suspect that (s)he really must have had a blackout about it. He also talked about how the mentally ill can fall victim to being falsely convicted of a crime, and how sometimes they come right out and confess to a crime they could not have possibly committed. Rob fielded questions from the students about being found not guilty vs. innocence; how the center originated and goes about helping those who contact it; and how the death penalty makes the need to right wrongful convictions all the more pressing. It was really very interesting.