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A Postconviction Mentality: Prosecutorial Assistance in Exoneration Cases

NCJ Number
Justice Quarterly Volume: 2 Issue: 36 Dated: 2019 Pages: 323-349
Date Published
27 pages
Since little is known about prosecutorial discretionary choices after conviction, this study examined prosecutors' willingness to assist with exonerations.

Using data from the National Registry of Exonerations (N = 1,610), this study identified factors that influence prosecutorial assistance. Results from generalized ordered logistic regression models demonstrated that avoiding uncertainty and maintaining workgroup relationships drove decision-making. Findings indicate that prosecutors were less likely to support exonerations involving law enforcement or forensic misconduct, violent offenses, and inadequate legal defense; and they were more likely to support exonerations involving innocence organizations, guilty pleas, and Black and Hispanic defendants. These findings suggest that prosecutors' interest in protecting professional reputations, maintaining relationships, and optimizing efficiency influenced discretion in the postconviction stage just as in earlier stages of case processing. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2019