Here's a potentially scary statistic: Of the 330 people freed by the Innocence Project, an organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted prisoners, 10% of them actually admitted to committing the crime they were innocent of. They even estimate that as many as 5% of all prisoners in America are innocent. That may seem like a low percentage, but that's tens or hundreds of thousands of people in jail right now who committed no crime.
In the age of DNA testing, facial recognition software and the deputization of every person with a smartphone camera and a YouTube account, it's actually barbaric the ease with which we send people to prison without really knowing for sure if they're guilty or just had bad lawyers. We like to think that by comparing the technologies we have now to the primitive science and guesswork of 100 years ago that we're actually really good at solving crimes and putting the real bad guys away, but that's not the case. DNA science isn't nearly as exact as we think it is, and the criminal justice system is built more for quickly shuffling suspects to prison than actually solving crimes.
This week on the podcast Jack O'Brien is joined by Jason Pargin (aka David Wong) to discuss how far we've come as a species in the way we try to solve crimes, the areas we're still woefully bad at it, and how society's earliest mistakes still color the messed up way in which we view and prosecute right versus wrong.