The broad area that I choose to focus on in this paper is corrections and the challenge is wrongful convictions.
The context of the challenge
Wrongful conviction is defined as the act of punishing an individual for an offense that he or she did not commit. The concept of wrongful convictions is usually as a result of errors in the process of justice. Wrongful conviction is a big challenge in corrections and has seen many serve sentences while they are innocent. Errors in the judicial system can have highly contributed to the suffering of innocent people (Medwed, 2017).
The overreliance on forensic science is one factor that has to lead to the challenge. Forensic science is believed to be a reliable source of evidence in the correctional system. The use of forensic evidence is crucial in the judicial system; however, the evidence must be subjected to thorough evaluation before it is used. In many occasions, there is mishandling of the evidence as well as reliance on improper evidence. There is so much trust that has been placed on the forensic evidence such that the officers do not take time to adequately analyze it and also accurately convey it during trials and this leads to the wrongful convictions.
Coerced confessions have also contributed to wrongful convictions. This is because the witnesses do not have the will to provide information and this can lead to giving of false evidence.
Importance of addressing the problem
It is crucial that the problem of wrongful convictions be addressed. One of the reasons why this issue should be addressed is that it has an adverse impact on not only the victims but also to the family members. Wrongful convictions sometimes lead to death penalty. When an individual has been charged with a crime he or she did not commit, he may end up dying innocently. This is an end of life and denying the person the right to life. Besides, the death of the victims causes untold suffering on the family and friends. In other cases, it could attract life sentences as well as short-term sentences. The sentencing makes the innocent person not enjoy freedoms of liberty and control over their lives (Scott, 2010).
Secondly, it is pertinent to address the problem because it is an indication of a limitation in the criminal justice system. The general public has faith and trust in the justice system because it is believed to be the department that should ensure social control and uphold fairness. When there are numerous cases of the problem, the public loses faith in it and it implies that the society does not have any organization to perform this function.
Moreover, wrongful convictions are costly. For instance, when an offender has been sentenced to a life sentence, the government incurs various costs to ensure his or her needs are met while serving this sentence.
Internal and external impact
The victims are highly impacted by the problem. Research has indicated that wrongful convictions have a significant physiological impact on the victims and also their families. The psychological torture has been cited as one of the reasons for the increased prison suicide rates (Scott, 2010).
Externally, families to this victims are traumatized and segregated. When their member has been exonerated, it becomes difficult for him to be absolved back into the family. Besides, the society may also start discriminating these families.
The subjection of prisoners to DNA testing after they have been convicted is one way to solve the problem. Since improper conveying and evaluation is one of the factors leading to the challenge, repeating the test after a judgment has been made will help clear any doubts and confirm that the right offender is held (Medwed, 2017).
Improved officer training is also another strategy to solve this problem. The training will focus on areas such as eyewitness identification as well as questioning to gather evidence. An officer with the right skills will be in a better place to collect more reliable evidence than one who is not properly skilled.
In Medwed, D. S. (2017). Wrongful convictions and the DNA revolution: Twenty-five years of freeing the innocent.
Scott, L. (2010). It Never, Ever Ends”: The Psychological Impact of Wrongful Conviction. American University Criminal Law Brief 5, 5(2), 10-22. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.wcl.american.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1063&context=clb
Stojkovic, S., Kalinch D, Klofas .J, (EDS). Criminal Justice Organizations: Administration and Management 6th ed. (2015, 2012).