Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor participates in Kent Reads


Former Attourney General of Ohio Jim Petro and his wife, Nancy Petro, talk about their co-authored book, “False Justice: Eight Myths that Convict the Innocent” at Kent Speaks in the Library on Sept. 28. Photo by Adrianne Bastas.

Tyler Singleton

Jim Petro, the Ohio Board of Regents chancellor, and his wife, Nancy Petro, spoke to a crowd about the importance of citizens demanding a better criminal justice system from Ohio legislators.

“While we are quick to talk about every other part of government and are politically engaged for the most part, when it comes to criminal justice we think, ‘Ah, it is beyond me,’” Nancy Petro said. “The justice system will be what we demand of it. We have to be extremely diligent as citizens to be knowledgeable in our inquiries of the criminal justice system.”

Jim and Nancy Petro participated in University Libraries’ Kent Reads, a platform for students, faculty and alumni to share meaningful pieces of literature, poetry and original works. Jim and Nancy’s presentation focused on their co-authored book, “False Justice: Eight Myths that Convict the Innocent.”

Nancy Petro discussed the eighth and final myth: “If the justice system has problems, the pros will fix it.” She described a justice system that is not self-correcting because of the many players and little accountability. Even after exhausting the appeals process, Nancy Petro said many wrongful convictions still stand.

Rather than rely on change from within the system, Nancy Petro made a call to action.

“The people who change systems in this country are the American voters,” she said. “We are the ones who have set the tone for the criminal justice system. You only have to look at the 2.3 million people in prison, more than any other country in the world, to see that the system listens to the people.”

Nancy Petro talked about another myth, “only guilty people confess,” by stating that in 25 percent of wrongful convictions, an innocent person confessed. She said this occurs because “over 75 percent of the people who find themselves in an interrogation waive their Miranda Rights” and “over 60 percent of these people go on to either confess, make a self-incriminating statement or plead to a crime they did not do.”

Nancy Petro said this occurs because of interrogation tactics used in the United States criminal justice system, the only system to allow investigators to provide false information during interrogation. The Petros feel these practices undermine U.S. ideals and make investigations into a competition.

“The system of justice should be about seeking the truth,” Jim Petro said. “We have an adversarial system so it is very easy for those in the system to lose their way. It is not about winning; it is about seeking the truth.”

Contact Tyler Singleton at [email protected].