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Edwin M. Borchard

Convicting The Innocent and State Indemnity For Errors of Criminal Justice

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Edwin M. Borchard was a pioneer in both identifying the features of the United States’ legal system that contribute to the conviction of innocent persons, and advocating for their compensation when exonerated. This compilation includes Borchard’s “Convicting The Innocent: Sixty-Five Actual Errors Of Criminal Justice,” which was the first book published in the United States that identified key factors contributing to the conviction of innocent persons. Borchard suggested reforms to try and minimize the effect of those factors and the occurrence of a wrongful conviction. Due to the legal system’s inertia and resistance to meaningful change, Borchard’s analysis of the causes of wrongful convictions, and his suggested reforms, are as relevant today as when “Convicting The Innocent” was published in 1932. This compilation also includes “European Systems Of State Indemnity For Errors Of Criminal Justice,” which was the first article published in the U.S. that detailed how deficient indemnification of an exonerated person is in the U.S. compared with European countries. Borchard advocated enactment of legislation that would provide adequate compensation for exonerated persons in the U.S. Borchard’s premise is as relevant today as when his article was published in 1913 because the U.S. continues to lag not only European countries, but countries throughout the world in adequately indemnifying exonerated persons. Borchard’s article also provides an invaluable resource for understanding the history of indemnifying a wrongful conviction in this country and Europe. Also included in this compilation is Justice Denied magazine’s biographical article about Borchard when it named him as an inaugural member of its Wrongful Conviction Hall Of Honor in 2007. This compilation provides today’s audience with Edwin Borchard’s primary works concerning wrongful convictions. Borchard’s writings continue to provide valuable insights into the causes of wrongful convictions and reforms that may help minimize their occurrence, and that the generally inadequate indemnification of exonerated persons in the U.S. has been of concern for more than 100 years.