Criminal Injustice: A Cost Analysis of Wrongful Convictions, Errors, and Failed Prosecutions in California's Criminal Justice System
This report documents mistakes, incompetence, and malfeasance in our criminal justice system. Not only are these systemic errors expensive—costing taxpayers an estimated $282 million adjusted for inflation—they also have serious and lifelong consequences on the people subject to these flawed prosecutions. The individuals in the study endured hundreds of trials, mistrials, appeals, and habeas petitions and served more than two thousand years in prison and jail, all for charges that could not be sustained. The report analyzes a dataset of 692 adult felony criminal cases in California, the majority from 2000–2012, wherein the defendant was convicted of felony or felonies, the convictions were reversed, and the charges were either dismissed or the defendant subsequently found not guilty on retrial. It examines the types of cases susceptible to error, the types of error that exist, and the direct costs of incarceration, representation, and compensation attributable to these cases and their ultimate resolution.
The report was written by the Warren Institute criminal justice team at Berkeley Law prior to their merger into The Opportunity Institute.