Shocking: 2000 People Falsely Convicted, Then Exonerated, in 23 Years

False prosecution: a new study has shown that over 2000 people have been falsely convicted, then exonerated, of crimes in the US over the past two decades. The number comes from a new database compiled by the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law, in a joint effort to examine wrongful convictions. The researchers have details for 873 cases among those in the database, through which they found that most exonerations involved men, half of whom were black, and half of which were murder cases. Over one hundred of the wrongful convictions had received the death penalty. Washington Post:


The overall registry/list begins at the start of 1989. It gives an unprecedented view of the scope of the problem of wrongful convictions in the United States and the figure of more than 2,000 exonerations “is a good start,” said Rob Warden, executive director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions.

“We know there are many more that we haven’t found,” added University of Michigan law professor Samuel Gross, the editor of the newly opened National Registry of Exonerations.

Counties such as San Bernardino in California and Bexar County in Texas are heavily populated, yet seemingly have no exonerations, a circumstance that the academics say cannot possibly be correct.

Further, the database includes over 1200 cases about which the researchers had scant evidence, but many of which were thrown out during police corruption exposes. That, and the allegedly juked numbers in San Bernardino and Bexar County bring to light the overall problem that leads to false convictions: when quotas are more important than justice. Additional information about the kinds of crimes that are wrongly convicted proves as much:

Seven percent of the exonerations were drug, white-collar and other nonviolent crimes, 5 percent were robberies and 5 percent were other types of violent crimes.

“It used to be that almost all the exonerations we knew about were murder and rape cases. We’re finally beginning to see beyond that. This is a sea change,” said Gross.

Read the full piece at the Washington Post.


AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at May 21, 2012, 8:01am