In this article I argue that despite the very serious nature and surprisingly large number of these kinds of exonerations, revelations about factually innocent death-sentenced prisoners represent only the most dramatic, visible tip of a much larger problem that is submerged throughout our nation's system of death sentencing. That is, many of the very same flaws and factors that have given rise to these highly publicized wrongful convictions also produce a more common kind of miscarriage of justice in capital cases. I refer to death sentences that are meted out to defendants who, although they may be factually guilty of the crimes for which they were placed on trial, are not "death worthy" or "deserving" of the death penalty. This includes the many who, if their cases had been handled properly by competent counsel at the time of trial and adjudicated in a fairer and more just system, would have been sentenced to life instead.
Exoneration and Wrongful Condemnations: Expanding the Zone of Perceived Injustice in Death Penalty Cases, 37 Golden Gate U. L. Rev.