In terms of solutions, I would advocate getting rid of acceptance of responsibility benefits. I would also advocate reforming the plea deal system so that there can’t be enormous disparities between punishments offered in a plea deal and possible punishments if a defendant chooses to exercise his or her right to go to trial.
I would also dramatically reform the trial process, which is not a particularly good truth-finding mechanism. The rules of evidence, for example, are based on false and long-disproven empirical and psychological assumptions. A big step forward would be reforming the rules regarding eyewitness testimony, which studies consistently show to be extremely unreliable. Certainly the studies that demonstrate its unreliability should be allowed at trial — they’re currently not. And perhaps eyewitness testimony should be excluded from trial if it is so unreliable — at least under certain circumstances.
We’re in the 21st Century and the law still uses slightly-updated medieval methods for determining truth. As all the DNA exonerations are showing, our criminal justice system is woefully inaccurate. It’s time we thought about how to reform and modernize it.
-Daniel J. Solove, responding to a commenter on his post, Why the Innocent Are Punished More Harshly Than the Guilty