Convicting the innocent is no less a problem in the United States than in Great Britain. Yet the United States Congress has recently passed legislation making federal habeas corpus remedies for actual innocence more difficult to obtain, while at the same time the British Parliament passed legislation establishing the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), an independent body to investigate suspected miscarriages of justice in Great Britain. The problem of convicting the innocent is especially notable in Illinois, which has now exonerated and released more death row inmates (thirteen) than it has executed since 1977 (twelve). As a result, state political leaders in Illinois are now considering how to correct the Illinois criminal justice system's propensity for convicting innocent men to death. This article first compares the American and British criminal justice systems. It then describes the CCRC, and its evolution in Britain and addresses the political and legal feasibility of establishing Innocence Commissions in the United States. Finally, the article examines the need for such Innocence Commissions in the United States and concludes that the state governments of the United States, beginning with Illinois, need to follow Great Britain's lead in establishing an independent review commission to investigate suspected wrongful convictions.
Northern Illinois University Law Review
"The Innocence Commission: An Independent Review Board for Wrongful Convictions,"
Northern Illinois University Law Review: Vol. 20:
1, Article 4.
David Horan, The Innocence Commission: An Independent Review Board for Wrongful Convictions, 20 N. Ill. U. L. Rev. 91 (2000).