- Post #2: Reputations
- Post #1: Misdirection
- Why I Believe in the Reality of False Confessions - Part 1
- Going Beyond Swain - actual innocence in procedural matters
- Reflecting on Temujin's lawsuit against the MDOC
- 2015: Year of the Video Recordings
- Prosecutors and Balanced Justice
- Any Ol' Confession will do!
- New Year Reflections
- A Little Part of History
- The NRE Hits 1000!
- Report by the National Registry of Exonerations - 1989 to 2012
- Self-serving Prosecutors
- Overhaul of Eye Witness Identification Procedures in the Courts
- When Politics Trumps Justice
- Created: 29 May 2012
- Published: 29 May 2012
- Written by Bill Branham
- Instead of the media reporting only the number of DNA exonerations by the Innocence Project in New York, currently at 292, there have been 978 DNA and non-DNA exonerations since 1989 (as of Oct 7, 2012).
- It does not include 1170 defendants whose convictions were dismissed in 13 “group exonerations” that followed the discovery of major police scandals.
- The report confidently states that the database has a long way to go before it even comes close to including all exonerations.
I personally know a person whose name is missing from the list. Just how underreported is this first attempt at a national database? The researchers are troubled by the fact that many of the lower profile exoneration cases were only learned about because the researchers happened to know the lawyers involved. The researchers state, "We have no doubt that we have missed the vast majority of low-visibility exonerations."
So, how do we move from the number of exonerations to an estimate of the number of wrongful convictions? In the process of gathering the data for this report, the researcher gained insight into what they did not know. For instance,
- Exonerations are overwhelmingly rape and murder cases. What about those falsely convicted of lesser crimes whom are never exonerated because they lack the motivation and resources to seek a legal exoneration and they simply serve their time?
- What about all the cases in which the defendant took a plea deal, not because he/she is guilty, but, despite being innocent, decided not to risk 20 years in prison when a plea would give them 2? And like above, with the lesser sentence, just serve their time rather than go to the effort to be exonerated?
- Then there is the logical practical element that there must be cases of wrongful conviction that will never see the light of day because there is no way to prove they are innocent. In view of the high number exonerations (legally proven wrongful convictions), this number, though ultimately unknowable, could be huge.
If we have one exoneration a week, how many wrongful convictions do we have? One a day? Two a day. Regardless of the number each of us might come up with, the number is way too high for a country which prides itself in having the best criminal justice system in the world.
The more you read this report, the more educated your estimate of wrongful convictions will be. Soak it in. Share it with others: congressmen, senators, state and national, judges, prosecutors and on. Help those who are a part of the system to look in the mirror with both eyes open.