When Justice Fails: Wrongful Convictions in the U.S. Criminal Justice System

When Justice Fails strip


Academic Team:
Robert Rocklin (rrocklin@uoregon.edu
First-Year Experience Seminar Instructor
Bree Johnson (aubreej@uoregon.edu)
FIG Assistant

9 credits
UGST 109 First-Year Experience Seminar - 1 credit

CRN: 16289, T: 2:00pm-3:20pm, PETR 102

SOC 207 Social Inequality - 4 credits

CRN:14886, TR: 10:00am-11:20am, LIL 182, +DIS: 14890, F: 10:00am-10:50am, FR 106

Law 102 Intro to Criminal Law - 4 credits

CRN: 13102, MW: 4:00pm-5:50pm, KNI 110

About the FIG:

Since 1989, nearly 3,500 people have been found to have been wrongfully convicted by our criminal legal system.  Collectively, those exonerees have served nearly 32,000 years in prison for crimes they did not commit.  For example, Jesse Johnson was convicted by a Salem, Oregon jury of a 1998 aggravated murder and sentenced to death.  He walked out of prison last year—after 25 years on death row—when his lawyers found additional evidence that supported his innocence.  

In this class, we will examine the causes and effects of wrongful convictions.  We will consider such issues as:  

  • What the actual rate of wrongful convictions is 
  • False confessions 
  • Prosecutorial misconduct 
  • The use of DNA in exonerating the innocent 
  • The role of race in wrongful convictions and exonerations 
  • “Junk” forensic science and wrongful convictions 
  • Eyewitness testimony 
  • Compensation for wrongful conviction and incarceration 
  • Collateral consequences of wrongful convictions 

 We will consider why the U.S. criminal legal system produces wrongful convictions and what can be done about it. We will have videos, guest speakers, and lively discussions. 

SOC 207 Social Inequality- CoreEd or major satisfying course

Our world is structured by unequal social relations that permeate all aspects of our lives. All societies have systems of stratification which result in the unequal distribution of economic, social, and political resources. These systems of stratification are complex, pervasive, and persistent yet highly variable. Focusing primarily on the United States, we explore the structural bases of inequality by examining three intersecting stratification systems: class, race, and gender. We also examine individual and collective experiences of people differently located in these systems of stratification. Through lectures, discussions, and videos, we will think critically about social inequality, and how that's reflected in our own social worlds and our personal experiences.

LAW 102 Intro to Criminal Law - CoreEd or major satisfying course

What should count as a crime? What, if anything, justifies criminal punishment? Why is it that America, the “land of the free,” has the highest incarceration rate in the world? Bridging theory and practice, this course explores philosophical questions about what criminal law and punishment ought to be like and equips students to understand how criminal law and punishment actually function in the United States.

Meet your FIG Assistant and Instructor!