False confessions, unreliable witnesses and misleading evidence are just a few of the reasons that many people are wrongfully convicted of crimes, Professor Adam Benforado said during an interview on National Public Radio’s Fresh Air program on July 6.
The program explored Benforado’s new book, “Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice,” which tallies the myriad ways that recognized bias on the part of witnesses, prosecutors, judges, jurors and victims puts innocent people behind bars.
The book is based on vast volumes of scientific research, including Benforado’s own NSF-funded work, that demonstrate the mental processes that drive police to rush to inaccurate judgments about suspects and allow eyewitnesses and even trained laboratory technicians identify innocent people as culprits.
“I want judges and jurors and eyewitnesses to all give up this notion that they're infallible, that their memories work the way they think their memories work, that they make good calls based on objective factors,” Benforado said in the interview. “I think we need to control for our human limitations.”
The book suggests a multitude of reforms that would reduce the influence of bias in criminal trials, from requiring prosecutors to affirm their ethical obligations every time they embark on a case to using virtual trials.
With favorable reviews at Kirkus Reviews, Goodreads and elsewhere, the book became a leading seller on Amazon.