In of alleged or suspected miscarriage of justice

 

            In
evaluation, the CJS have put in the basic groundwork to help miscarriage of
justice victims, however, they fail to commit themselves fully. As shown,
practices such as the CCRC are put in place but are not adequately aided by the
government, and laws passed such as the Turing Law pose an enormous impact on
the rectification of these miscarriages, but the imposition of such law is all
but too late. Therefore in conclusion, yes the criminal justice system is able
to rectify miscarriages of justice within society, but the question of its effectiveness
is another matter within itself.

            Within a legal system
there will always be miscarriages of justice, before the aspect of rectifying
miscarriages justice can be tackled, the CJS must first begin to look at the
root cause of this, although it may never be fully eradicated, this could help but
a few. As
found, the CJS falters in its urgency to help those who fall victim to the
system itself rather than victim to crime. It took twenty- three painful years
for the Hillsborough families to achieve some measure of justice, for the most
part the victims of miscarriages of justice must fight their battles alone.
Politicians talk sympathetically about introducing a victims’ law, but where is
the compassion shown to those who are victims of wrongful convictions?

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            On
the other hand, the Innocence Projects have been put in place. These are a
conjunction between university students, solicitors and barristers who
investigate cases of alleged wrongful convictions, on a pro bono basis. (The
Innocence Project, 2017) They seek to uncover cases that are evident of the
failings within the criminal justice system. Along with the Innocence Network
(INUK) (2004), they give help and hope to potentially innocent victims of
wrongful conviction or imprisonment who have exhausted the appeals system and
legal aid services. According to the INUK, the CCRC, is not doing a good enough
job of referring cases of alleged or suspected miscarriage of justice back to
the appeal courts. Some innocent victims of wrongful conviction were not referred
to the appeal court simply because they did not meet the required criteria.
This is an example of a major flaw in the rectification of miscarriage of
justice.

However, Nealon and Hallam are not the only ones fighting for
compensation on their own miscarriages of justice. It took 23 years for the
Hillsborough families to achieve some form of truth and justice.  In February 2015, a Global Law Summit was
held for those who had been wrongly convicted but denied any redress under the
ruling introduced in 2014 which virtually states that it is not enough to just
be innocent and in most cases the real culprit of the crime must be found
before the individual can be compensated. The battle for victims of
miscarriages of justice to receive compensation for their time served is an
ongoing and ever long, proving yet again that the attempts of rectification by
the system are ineffective. (The Guardian, 2015)

“When a person has by a final decision been convicted of a criminal
offence and when subsequently his conviction has been reversed or he has been
pardoned on the ground that a new or newly discovered fact shows conclusively
that there has been a miscarriage of justice, the person who has suffered
punishment as a result of such conviction shall be compensated according to
law, unless it is proved that the non-disclosure of the known fact in time is
wholly or partly attributed to him.”

            However, victims, Victor Nealon, who spent seventeen years
in prison for attempted rape, and Sam Hallam, aged 17, who was convicted of
murder after a trainee chef was stabbed during a fight in London, have come
together to take the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, to court over changes
to the law stopping them from receiving compensation for the twenty-four years
they wrongly spent behind bars. (Independent, 2015). By law, the requirements
necessary under the UK’s international obligations to the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966, article 14 (6), states that;

In addition, there are currently no figures that exist that can
accurately and reliably quantify the incidence of disputed, factual innocence,
or of other conceptions of miscarriages of justice. (D, Eady. 2009, p. 10) It would be equally as difficult to ascertain how many
individuals are wrongly indicted as it would be to ascertain how many are
wrongly convicted. Similarly, the length of time it takes to resolve
miscarriages of justice makes it difficult to form a judgement on whether the
problem is increasing or decreasing, as current figures on successful appeals
reflect the correction of past mistakes, not those convictions occurring as we
speak. Resultantly, the Criminal Case Review
Commission 1997 (CCRC) was set up as an independent body responsible for
investigating alleged miscarriages of justice. Critics say that the commission
is under-funded, understaffed and not sufficiently independent, with a current
backlog of 1,200 cases. (BBC News, 2017b) However, the CCRC
shows that it remains as necessary a body now, as it did when it was first
initiated. Even its harshest critics simply want to improve the CCRC and have
no interest in its abolition. The existence of the CCRC on its own is not
enough, it requires resources and powers to perform its job effectively. There
is no question that the fundamental constitutional principle, which the CJS
rests and the CCRC exists to uphold, is that the guilty are convicted and the
innocent go free by investigating miscarriages of justice. (Criminal Case Review
Commission, 2017)

            The question of
whether the CJS is effective in rectifying miscarriages of justice is shown
through the recent enactment of the Turing Law. Named after Alan Turing, a
World War Two, code-breaker who has only recently been pardoned in 2013,
decades after being convicted for gross indecency, or for lack of a better
term, for being gay. (BBC News, 2016) This new bill is
said to be split into two parts, the first part would include a formal pardon
for every man convicted under homosexuality laws, and the second would be a
conviction “disregard” for men still living, whose records are problematic,
such as the issue of being put on the sex offenders list for being homosexual. (BBC News, 2017a) Although this seems as though the CJS is finally rectifying the
miscarriage of justice placed upon these men, homosexuality has been legal in
the United Kingdom (UK) since 1967, as well as same-sex marriage being legal
since 2014. Thus, it must be asked, why has taken the CJSystem fifty years to
put this motion in place since being legal to be homosexual, and why weren’t
more process put in place in the mean time to protect those, like Turing, whom
took their own lives due to their wrongful convictions.

            Discontent
with the Criminal Justice System (CJS) arose in the early 1970’s after the
Police and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the main prosecuting agency
where police had a dual role of investigating and prosecuting, began to fail,
as shown by the case of Maxwell Confait in 1972. (True Crime Library, 2015). A campaign emerged in
1974 known as the Confait Inquiry, to which Henry Fisher was asked by the Crown to examine the prosecution which
had resulted in the conviction of three young men. (Everything2, 2017). On a reference by the Home Secretary, the Court of Appeal,
presided over by Lord Scarman, all convictions were quashed. Fisher heard
evidence from numerous witnesses and scrutinised a mass of documents. He
concluded that there had been blatant disregard by the police of the Judges’
Rules (designed to secure fair procedures for the interrogation of suspects)
which led to all three suspects being exonerated immediately. His forceful
report recommended radical changes in the system. This led directly to the
appointment of the Philipps Commission and then to the enactment of the Police
and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985, which
allowed for police investigators to be prosecuted in the act of a
miscarriage of justice, as improper police pressure suggested that an overhaul
of the system was needed. The following year the
Crown Prosecution Service was established. Fisher’s report laid the groundwork
for all these reforms.

 

At
first look a miscarriage of justice may be due to the failure of a court or
judicial system to attain the ends of justice, especially one which results in
the conviction of an innocent person. However, it is a hard term to define as
the term itself can represent many different notions and even if narrowed to
mean the conviction of a factually innocent person, the actual account of
innocence is rarely agreed upon universally. (English
Oxford Living Dictionaries, 2017) These miscarriages can also be a result of non-disclosure of evidence by
the police or prosecution, fabrication of evidence, poor identification,
unreliable confessions due to police pressure or psychological instability and
misdirection by a judge during trial. Throughout this assignment the question of
whether the Criminal Justice Process is effective in rectifying what is
labelled as a miscarriage of justice will be contested.

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