From Michigan Radio:
The University of Michigan Law School and the Center for Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law recently launched an online database containing an updated list of exonerations in the United States since 1989. The goal of the project is to prevent wrongful convictions or improve the process of identifying and correcting them should they occur.
So far, the National Registry of Exoneration lists more than 890 wrongfully convicted individuals.
For each case, the database offers demographic information on the individual and reports his or her crime, sentence, time served and reason for exoneration.
More than 1,000 additional cases are “group exonerations” that occurred in response to 13 separate police corruption scandals, most of which involved massive planting of drugs and guns on innocent defendants. The group exonerations are described in a report from the National Registry, “Exonerations in the United States, 1989 – 2012,” but are not included in the registry itself.
As the report documents in detail, there are many more false convictions and exonerations that have not been found.
“The National Registry of Exonerations gives an unprecedented view of the scope of the problem of wrongful convictions in the United States,” said Rob Warden, executive director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions. “It’s a widespread problem.”
“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,” said Michigan Law professor Samuel Gross, editor of the registry and an author of the report. “This is a sea change.”
The report includes the following cases, most of which do not appear in any previous compilation:
- 58 exonerations for drug, tax, white collar and other non-violent crimes
- 39 exonerations in federal cases
- 102 exonerations for child sex-abuse convictions
- 129 exonerations of defendants who were convicted of crimes that never happened
- 135 exonerations of defendants who confessed to crimes they didn’t commit
- 71 exonerations of innocent defendants who pled guilty