Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Type

Capstone - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

Alicia Malone


Although the criminal justice system is one of the most important systems in our society, it has its flaws. One role of the criminal justice system is to incarcerate people who have committed crimes in violation of criminal law. Unfortunately for thousands of individuals, the criminal justice system incarcerates people who are not guilty of those crimes. Wrongful convictions are a failure of our criminal justice system. There are different factors that contribute to a person being wrongfully convicted. These factors include eyewitness misidentification, inadequate or ineffective legal representation, DNA-or lack thereof, and official misconduct, or a combination of these. This paper employs in-depth case studies examining three different wrongful conviction cases. These cases are those of Francisco Vera, Marcus Lyons, and Michael Evans. Three men who had been wrongfully convicted of crimes they did not commit, and later exonerated. These case studies explore the factors that contributed to their wrongful conviction, the length of their sentence, and what led to their eventual exoneration. The case studies also dive into life after exoneration for these men, including what their life was like after being released, whether any help was provided to them re-entering the community, and whether they received any monetary compensation. The case studies, although focusing on three specific cases, shine light on the underlying issues of all wrongful convictions in the United States.