How we identified interventions to reduce wrongful convictions in the Canadian legal system
In a team of four, we applied systems thinking to understand and improve the way the Canadian legal system handles wrongful convictions.
In 2012 alone 2,470 wrongful convictions were reported in Canada. We wanted to find out why and what we could do to change it.
First, we conducted expert interviews with a number of defence lawyers and the founder of Toronto’s Innocence Project.
A responsibility assignment matrix of the stakeholders informed our engagement with the experts. We continued to iterate and validate our findings with the experts.
Participatory design research was done using stimuli for participants to map out their interpretations of real wrongful conviction cases.
The more we learned, the more we mapped. We turned our data into knowledge by continuously iterating and seeking more information. After participatory design research, many interviews, literary review, and validation sessions with subject matter experts, we felt confident enough to zoom out from the system to see the bigger picture.
A Synthesis Map was produced after an iterative process to visualize the complex process and the relationships within the Canadian legal system.
Intervention points were marked to help improve the way the Canadian legal system handles wrongful convictions.
Intervention points were clearly marked and a legend was provided at the start of the map for ease of reading.
Stakeholders that have influence on each phase of the map appear at the top. A variation in scale shows their relative influence on the process.
A visual metaphor was used to represent the current adversarial system.
- Prosecution and defence getting ready for a bout.
- Media putting the spotlight on the contest.
- Government controls prosecution and defence using strings. This shows how much control they have in the system. It is, in fact, a self-serving system with the prosecution significantly more likely to be successful.
- A flowchart visually representing the complexity of the Criminal Justice System is the central piece of the map.
- Three different kinds of roads were used to show the variation in speed of each phase. Time, affluence and complexity of the crime were factored in.
- The three main phases of the system were marked with loops and information related to each section was laid out in close proximity.
The result was compiled into a 10x8 foot visual. It can be read digitally by clicking the document below.
Role: Equal contributor
Team Size: 4 grad students
Time Frame: 4 months
Client: Project during Master of Design Program
Causal relationship mapping”
Illustrations by Nandini Krishnamurthy
Design by Jyotish Sonowal