the National Registry of Exonerations, a joint project of Michigan Law and
Northwestern Law, over 1,600 individuals in the United States have been
exonerated after being convicted for crimes they did not commit. These are the
known cases of wrongful conviction—the actual number is much higher. Some of
these individuals have served years, even decades, in prison for these
crimes. Often, real offenders
have escaped justice as a result of the wrong person being accused and convicted.
As noted, we
will approach this topic from a social scientific perspective. Social science
is a broad field that seeks to understand social interactions between
individuals, groups, and institutions. The field includes academic disciplines
such as sociology, criminology, psychology, economics, anthropology, political
science, and other related disciplines.
course we will explore wrongful convictions answering several key questions:
What do we mean by
“wrongfully convicted,” and how common are wrongful convictions?
Who are wrongfully
Where in the
criminal justice system do things go wrong to lead to wrongful
Why do wrongful
How can social
science contribute to understanding, and preventing wrongful convictions?
This course will also be offered for Penn State credit. This course option will require a heavier workload and offer instructor feedback and assessment on completed work.