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TED on Wrongful Convictions: Part I

I recently came across a series of good talks about the phenomenon of wrongful convictions. There are numerous reasons for the problem, some of which will be discussed in the videos. I’ll spread them out over six days, so that my readers can give each talk the thought that it might deserve. The speakers come from different backgrounds, but let me point out some things that sparked my interest in the topic:

  1. I use the courtroom setting to talk about decision making in my statistics class. One of the concerns I specifically mention is the balancing of the potential errors: letting the guilty go free and punishing the innocent. These videos touch on one side of the balance, and highlight where innocent until proven guilty sometimes fails.
  2. As a Christian, issues of justice and equality are key to the gospel message, especially as it pertains to the poor and the captives. (c.f. Luke 4.18, 7.22-23) These videos often refer to the overwhelming prevalence of the poor (and minorities) in our prison system.
  3. Some of the talks bring up the debate between redemption and punishment. As Christians, we should (IMHO) be interested in redemption, since we have been offered grace and redemption from Christ. While some punishment is necessary in most of the types of situations discussed, what seems lacking in much of our system is any attempt at rehabilitation and redemption in the system

There are other things still ruminating in my head, but this will do as an introduction, for now.

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Here is today’s installment. In this talk, Scott Frazer talks about the false security we place on eyewitness testimony. His example is a powerful caution about what we think we remember that actually isn’t true. There is even a reference to our memories of 11 Sept 2001, which I confess revealed my own false memory.

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