The paper establishes the need for Innocence Projects around the country. We also need a Criminal Cases Review Commission like the UK, which has been in existence since 1997.
The Contribution of “Corruption” to Miscarriage of Justice Cases
Barbara Etter APM, Principal of BEtter Consulting (http://www.betterconsult.com.au)
Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Law and Justice, Edith Cowan University, Perth, WA
Presented to the Corruption Prevention Network Forum in Sydney on 6 September 2012
A Miscarriage of Justice (MoJ) which involves a wrongful conviction strikes at the very heart of our society, particularly where the person is proven to be factually innocent, as has occurred in a number of high profile cases in Australia (such as in the WA cases of Mallard, Beamish and Button (Blackburn 2005; Egan 2010; Corruption and Crime Commission 2008)) and the Victorian case of Farah Jama, where cross contamination of DNA in a Victorian forensic laboratory led to the conviction and gaoling of Mr Jama for a rape, it was subsequently discovered, he did not commit).
In the US, as at 3 September 2012, there have been 297 post-conviction exonerations through the use of DNA technology. 17 of those exonerees had even spent time on death row (US Innocence Project Fact Sheet).
MoJ matters are still with us today and they even occur in civilised and sophisticated environments. They are not a creature of the deep, dark past or third world countries. As Blackmore, the then Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions for NSW stated shortly after the Wood Royal Commission in that state (n.d.):
Miscarriages of justice do not always occur in dramatic circumstances. Injustice can also occur in societies that have a stable political climate with strong institutions to protect human rights and correct miscarriages. Miscarriages can occur when these very institutions are used in a corrupt fashion to bring about results, which appear, on their face to represent justice, when in reality they only represent a perversion of justice. (emphasis added)
And the wheels don’t turn quickly when it comes to rectifying a MoJ matter. The US Innocence Project (IP) found that the average time spent in prison by an exoneree was a staggering 13 years (US IP 2012).
Closer to home, consider the Lindy Chamberlain case, which took an astonishing 32 years to finally achieve justice and real closure for the wrongfully convicted. Lindy in her autobiography Through My Eyes was certainly disillusioned with the system after her ordeal (Chamberlain-Creighton 2004, pp.3-4) …
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