Websleuthing and wrongful conviction: digital evidence, online activism and innocence projects

Dr Greg Stratton3

3RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia

Innocence projects often participate in digital spaces that require navigation of the past and present in some unique ways. The competing narratives of official records with the claims of those claiming to victims of miscarriages of justice create a need to explore the past, engage with the assumptions of collective memory, and re-imagine what can happen and be done. Digital technologies provide help and hindrance in pursuing the truth in contentious claims of innocence. For innocence projects, digital spaces provide the chance to share evidence, collect new information, as well as practice new forms of digital advocacy. Counter to this work; projects are often encumbered with a past that was not digital, a public access to limited case information, and counter-activists who often side with victims and established narratives. Activities from both broaden public engagement with cases and serve as an additional investigative tool that can bring new witnesses and evidence into claims of wrongful conviction. Using research from the Bridge of Hope Innocence Project at RMIT, this paper discusses pro-wrongful conviction and pro-guilt digital spaces related to cases to examine the nature of amateur websleuthing and digital investigations in the post-conviction environment.

Dr Greg Stratton is a Lecturer in Justice & Legal Studies at RMIT University and is also the manager of The Bridge of Hope Innocence Initiative at RMIT University. Dr Stratton’s research interests focus on wrongful conviction, state crime, and digital criminology. In 2018 co-authored Digital Criminology: Crime and Justice in Digital Society (Routledge) with Anastasia Powell and Robin Cameron.


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