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If at all accurate, this criminal system number is truly alarming

There are many troubling questions that emerge with regularity concerning the criminal justice system and its administration in Texas and across the country. Experienced defense attorneys routinely deal with them as they provide diligent and aggressive representation for clients who have been charged with various criminal offenses.

Many defense challenges center around the concept of probable cause, for example. Did police even have a valid reason to interact with an individual and ultimately charge him or her with criminal conduct? Did their search and seizure of evidence used in a conviction follow warrant requirements? If it didn't, was their conduct reasonably exempted? Did prosecutors proceed fairly and charge appropriately? Did material errors of law yield an unfair sentencing outcome?

Was a criminal suspect even guilty?

That last question has always spelled a troublesome inquiry for the justice system. DNA processes, recanted witness testimony and other evidence have demonstrated repeatedly that select individuals who suffered long year in prison were wrongly convicted and entirely innocent of the criminal charges against them.

Results culled on wrongful convictions in a recently concluded university study posit that about 6 percent of all American inmates locked up in state and federal correctional facilities should never have been convicted.

Some readers might believe that such a number, while unfortunate, is not of alarming dimensions. After all, and when flipped (and, of course, if approximately accurate), it equates to criminal authorities getting it right more than nine of every 10 times.

But consider this. Reportedly, there are more than 2.3 million individuals locked behind bars in the United States, the most prison-friendly country on earth. If 6% of those people were wrongly convicted, that means that law enforcers are daily denying basic rights and freedom for 138,000 people.

The research conclusion could be wrong, of course: it could actually be understating a number that is already fundamentally disturbing.

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329 South Guadalupe Street
San Marcos, TX 78666

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