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Wrongful Convictions in Modern America: Costs, Causes, and Solutions

In the United States, there have been over 300 exonerations achieved through advances in DNA testing capabilities. Seventeen of those DNA exonerations arose in cases where individuals were sentenced to death. There is an additional universe of wrongful convictions that involves cases where proof of innocence is not biological in nature. Such cases pivot around other sources of exculpatory evidence, including recanted testimony, mistaken identification or official misconduct. The production of wrongful convictions is a lens through which society can examine a plethora of important realities. Race, poverty, faith in science and reason, notions around punishment and redemption and the allocation of scarce resources are all fluidly and dynamically tied to the study of wrongful convictions.

Outside the classroom, students will visit serval community partners to connect what they are learning in the classroom, like the Peter Paul Development Center and the Richmond Peace Education Center. In addition, students will visit local courthouses to interact with officials in the criminal justice system.

Course Fast Facts

Mary Kelly Tate, J.D.

Fall Course:
FYS 100: Wrongful Convictions in Modern America
Monday/Wednesday, 1:30-2:45 p.m.

Number of Students: 16

Residence Hall:
Wood Hall (co-ed community)

Sample Course Readings

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

The Apology, by Plato

"Letter from a Birmingham Jail", by Martin Luther King, Jr.