A new study published in the journal Criminal Justice Ethics has found that many state crime labs receive financial incentives for guilty verdicts, creating an environment where false-positive test results are beneficial to the lab conducting the tests, leading to the wrongful conviction of countless individuals.
According to the study’s abstract; “The American criminal justice system creates incentives for false conviction. For example, many public crime labs are funded in part per conviction. We show that the number of false convictions per year in the American criminal justice system should be considered “high”, the abstract continues, “forensic scientists often have an incentive to garner convictions with little incentive to convict the right person. These incentives create what economists call a “multitask problem” that seems to be resulting in a needlessly high rate of false convictions. Public defenders lack the resources and incentives needed to provide a vigorous defense for their clients.”
As an example, researchers point to a crime lab in Louisiana, stating that; ‘‘Collection of court costs is the only stable source of funding for the Acadiana Crime Lab. $10 is received for each guilty plea or verdict from each speeding ticket, and $50 from each DWI (Driving While Impaired) and drug offense.’’ Apparently – and ridiculously – this isn’t uncommon.
This study is one of the first to examine what is clearly a deep-seeded, widespread and fundamentally unjust portion of our criminal justice system.
Clearly, this is something in dire need of reformation.