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Abstract

The United States Congress and the State Legislatures of Indiana and Missouri have chosen illogical starting points in their experiments to reform the prohibition against introducing character evidence in criminal cases. Rather than start by allowing the introduction of past crimes with high recidivism rates such as burglary, these legislatures have chosen crimes with minimal probative value as predictors of the accused's conduct. By allowing the the introduction of criminal history in regard to criminal sexual conduct and child molestation, these legislatures increase the risk of wrongful conviction due to the disdain with which the average citizen views these types of crimes. Furthermore, these legislative decisions open the door to equal protection challenges to the law, and virtually guarantee years of legislation. Although this experiment in the reform of American evidence doctrine may ultimately succeed it will be in spite of, and not because of, the inaptness of the chosen starting points

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