The 2,000-plus wrongful convictions compiled in UCI's National Registry of Exonerations are just scratching the surface, according to Maurice Possley, a senior researcher for the registry. Tracking down and verifying those wrongful convictions -- which stem from misleading evidence, mistaken witness identification, false accusation, official misconduct and inadequate legal defense -- is a laborious process that relies on published news reports and exonerated defendants coming forward.
"We don't know how many cases there are," Possley told the Los Angeles Times. "We don't know how representational it is of the system. But the more we look, the more we find."
The Registry, now housed at Social Ecology's Newkirk Center for Science and Society, will give students a taste for the challenges of uncovering wrongful convictions, and will aid their research and learning, in classes such as Professor Simon Cole's "Miscarriages of Justice."
"I've taught that class for a long time, and before we used the registry I would get the response, 'I didn't know any of this stuff. I didn't know that our justice system had these issues. I thought it worked perfectly,' " Cole told the Times. "I was always surprised at the number of students for whom this was totally new to them."