Talk:Innocence Project

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 Definition Legal clinic which represents prisoners who could be proved innocent of crimes for which they were convicted. [d] [e]

I have to express some skepticism of the article's claim that the persons were "proved, by DNA testing, innocent of the crimes." We're they exonerated? That is much easier to do than to "prove innocence." --Larry Sanger 23:57, 28 June 2007 (CDT) P.S. at the risk of making a liar of myself in my recent Toward CZ 2.0, I wanted to clarify that I am attempting to write here as a rank-and-file author, not as editor-in-chief. Feel free to overrule me, editors. --Larry Sanger 23:59, 28 June 2007 (CDT)

I don't understand the distinction you seem to be making between "proving innocent" and "exonerating": To "exonerate" someone who has been convicted of committing a crime means to get their conviction invalidated/reversed/undone/nonexistent by proving they did not commit the crime. To do it with DNA. you have to prove, conclusively, that the DNA of the person who did commit the crime is different from the DNA of the person convicted of committing it. And if you thus prove someone else did it, you have proved the convicted person did not do it, and that's what "innocent" means. So what am I missing in your posting? -- k. kay 01:55, 14 July 2007 (CDT)

Well, you are the lawyer and editor here and I am not, so would I defer to your judgment of this. But I was of the understanding that there is an important legal distinction between demonstrating innocence, on the one hand, and merely clearing of charges, or overturning a conviction, by raising a reasonable doubt that the person did the crime. I was assuming (am I wrong?) that "exonerate" does not mean "prove to be innocent" but only "legally prove to be not guilty." And then, of course, sometimes the demonstration that a certain bit of DNA was in a certain place does not establish that its owner either did or did not do the crime, but merely raises a reasonable doubt. So it is possible to use DNA overturn a conviction without actually proving that a person did not do the crime. In the same way, for instance, the fact that O.J. Simpson was acquitted does not mean that he was proven to be innocent. It means only that the prosecution failed to prove he was guilty.

For these reasons (clumsily stated by me), as I pointed out in discussions with philosophy students studying applied ethics and philosophy of law, at least some lists of death row inmates who were allegedly "later proven innocent" are little more than propaganda: they are lists only of convictions that were overturned. That means the inmates were shown to be, legally, not guilty--not that they were demonstrated to be innocent. They might still have been responsible for the crime, but the legal system could no longer meet its burden of proof.

I'm sure this is all obvious to you and I have gone on too long explaining it. --Larry Sanger 07:21, 21 July 2007 (CDT)

I just noticed your lengthy explanation of similar matters in the article itself!

Well, I think that those points are relevant, but not directly so, to an article about a project called the Innocence Project. As long as we have just two paragraphs about the project itself, the rest of the business about innocence etc. probably belongs on another page. Perhaps innocence (law)--would you perhaps like to make a start on that? --Larry Sanger 07:34, 21 July 2007 (CDT)


Shucks, I thought the footnotes to this article WERE a start on the topic, which I've been planning in my head to be in "Evidence (law)," under the subheading "Burden of Proof," if someone else hasn't started it by the time I ever get to it, but I was planning to leave the footnotes in this article, too, to address the points you raised that hit me on a sore spot -- I'm in West Memphis AR, where the furor over the recent police shooting of a 12-year-old boy and the evolving results of the DNA analysis of the West Memphis Three evidence is inescapable, and since I can't straighten out the hysterics around me, I thought answering your questions might help other folks (and writing it sure made me feel better). -- k kay 18:11, 21 July 2007 (CDT)

Well, in planning articles, remember that this is no ordinary encyclopedia. This is hard to explain. It's not like if we write an article, then we're done with that topic. Not only can articles be constantly updated, we can expand into subtopics, which have their own articles. So, while the article about evidence might explain elementary matters of legal innocence, etc., the topic clearly deserves to be a topic unto itself. Indeed, since there is considerable legal and philosophical theorizing about innocence (and political, in the context of terrorism at least), I can imagine a number of subtopics. Well, I'm sure you knew all this, I'm just saying...think big.  :-) --Larry Sanger 03:32, 25 July 2007 (CDT)

Okay, I've posted what you suggested at guilt (law). I'll be away on a business trip on 3 - 11 August, and anyone who wants to is welcome to work on it in the meantime. -- k kay 21:20, 1 August 2007 (CDT)