Overturning Wrongful Convictions

Science Serving Justice

  • Interest Level: Grade 8 - Grade 12   ·  
  • Reading Level: Grade 8

Imagine being convicted of a crime you didn’t commit and spending years behind bars. Since 1989 more than 1,400 Americans who experienced this injustice have been exonerated. Some of the people who have won their freedom include Ronald Cotton, who was falsely convicted of raping a college student; Nicole Harris, who was unjustly imprisoned for the death of her son; and intellectually disabled Earl Washington Jr., who was unfairly sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a young mother. Wrongful convictions shatter lives and harm society by allowing real perpetrators to potentially commit additional crimes.

How can such injustices happen? Overturning Wrongful Convictions recounts stories of individuals who served someone else’s prison time due to mistaken eyewitness identification, police misconduct, faulty forensic science, poor legal representation, courtroom mistakes, and other factors. You’ll learn about the legal processes that can lead to unjust convictions and about the Innocence Project and other organizations dedicated to righting these wrongs.

The sciences—including psychology, criminology, police science, and forensic science—work hand in hand with the legal system to prosecute and punish those people whose actions break laws. Those same sciences can also be used to free people who have been wrongfully convicted. As a society, can we learn from past mistakes to avoid more unjust convictions?

Format List Price Your Price Qty
978-1-4677-6307-3
$50.65 $37.99
Interest Level Grade 8 - Grade 12
Reading Level Grade 8
Subject Social Studies
Copyright 2015
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Twenty-First Century Books ™
Language English
Number of Pages 120
Publication Date 2015-01-01
Reading Counts! Level 11.6
BISACS YAN052040, YAN051250, YAN031000
Dewey 364
Dimensions 6 x 8.1875
Lexile 1160
Features Bibliography/further reading, Index, Primary source quotations/images, Reviewed, Source notes, Table of contents, and eSource

Reviews

School Library Journal

“[W]ell-researched, extremely thorough look at how the legal system can go awry….The writing is on the scholarly side, making it ideal for students doing research or seeking an in-depth analysis of the subject….A strong purchase about an always timely issue.”―School Library

Kirkus Reviews

“Murray lays a solid foundation for readers, taking them through the legal system’s long road, from questioning all the way to appeal, while explaining how exoneration is achieved, mostly through DNA testing and fingerprints…. A chilling exposé.” —Kirkus Reviews

Author: Elizabeth A. Murray, PhD

Dr. Elizabeth A. Murray is a native Cincinnatian from a large family. When she was young, Elizabeth always thought she may grow up to be a writer, teacher, scientist, or explorer—now that she is a college professor and forensic scientist, she is active in all of those fields! Elizabeth always loved science; it was her favorite subject in school. In college, she studied biology and discovered that she found humans to be the most interesting animals, so she continued her studies in the field of anthropology. Being a very practical person, Elizabeth wanted her research focus to have tangible results and benefits that could aid society, and this led her to the forensic application of anthropology. It took many years of college and lots of hard work to become a forensic scientist, but Elizabeth says that teaching is still the very best part of her job. She enjoys taking difficult concepts in science and explaining them in a way that is interesting and relevant to her students.

Lerner eSource™ offers free digital teaching and learning resources, including Common Core State Standards (CCSS) teaching guides. These guides, created by classroom teachers, offer short lessons and writing exercises that give students specific instruction and practice using Common Core skills and strategies. Lerner eSource also provides additional resources including online activities, downloadable/printable graphic organizers, and additional educational materials that would also support Common Core instruction. Download, share, pin, print, and save as many of these free resources as you like!

Overturning Wrongful Convictions

Imagine being convicted of a crime you didn’t commit and spending years behind bars. Since 1989 more than 1,400 Americans who experienced this injustice have been exonerated. Some of the people who have won their freedom include Ronald Cotton, who was falsely convicted of raping a… View available downloads →