In 2013, a record number of inmates serving sentences for crimes they did not commit were freed.
According to a report released by the National Registry of Exonerations, 87 convicted people were cleared of rape, murder or other serious offenses, exceeding the 81 cases the registry found in 2009. From Huffington Post:
The registry is a collaboration between the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law. At the time of its creation two years ago, researchers had found 873 individuals exonerated since 1989. The database now tallies about 1,300 wrongful convictions. […]
“There is no way to tell from these cases whether we are getting better at avoiding wrongful convictions in the first place,” the report says. “It does seem, however, that we are working harder to identify the mistakes we made years ago and that we are catching more of them.”
Read more at Huffington Post
The number of death row exonerations has declined, averaging three per year for the last 10 years compared to six a year in the decade before that.
The U.S. averaged 280 death sentences per year from 1988 to 1999, but opted for capital punishment in 80 or fewer cases for the last three years.
DNA used to overturn convictions has also dropped. Two years ago, 35 percent of the exonerated in the registry had relied on DNA evidence to prove their innocence. The current report shows that DNA evidence was only a factor in 28 percent of exonerations.
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