Wrongful convictions and systemic racism

Learn more about wrongful convictions and the impact of systemic racism and discrimination on the justice systems

An simple illustration of a white hummingbird picking the lock of a door and opening it. The door is in a row of doors. Partially obscured.

By: Peter Collins


Wrongful convictions are failures of the justice system and result in the wrongfully convicted being deprived of their rights and freedoms, as well as carrying the "stain" of being labeled a “criminal,” which can have long‐term effects in terms of work, childcare and traveling. A wrongful conviction is a form of injustice with powerful and lasting impacts on individuals, families and communities. Systemic discrimination and racism play a significant role in wrongful convictions, with a higher proportion of racialized persons seeing their convictions overturned upon appeal

This resource guide has been created in collaboration with the Centre for Human Rights Research and the Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba. The Carte International Reference Centre is not responsible for the content of external links. Inclusion of material in this resource guide does not necessarily represent an endorsement of the views expressed. Material is presented in the language in which it was originally produced.


There is a growing collection of books that explore the issue of wrongful convictions in Canada, the United States and internationally.

Wrongful Convictions in Canada

Injustice within the Criminal Justice and Prison Systems

Wrongful Convictions in the United States


Documentaries and Podcasts

Several documentaries, podcasts and short news stories have been produced about individuals in Canada and United States who have been wrongfully convicted, or who are widely considered to have been wrongfully convicted, but who remain imprisoned.

Media reports

Many media outlets have produced stories about the issue of wrongful conviction or profiles of people who have been wrongfully committed.

Articles and Academic Papers

A number of dissertations, papers and articles that examine this issue from a variety of different perspectives have been published. Here is a selection: 

Governmental publications

Government agencies and non‐governmental organizations conduct research and publish reports on the issue of wrongful conviction, some of which focus on the role played by systemic racism.