Exoneration study: More than 2,000 falsely convicted in 23 years


A new study finds that one in three young adults in America will be arrested by the time they are 23 years old.


Joe Raedle

More than 2,000 people who were falsely convicted of serious crimes in the US have been exonerated in the past 23 years, a new study shows.

Exonerationregistry.org, assembled by the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law, is the most complete list of exonerations ever compiled, The Associated Press reported.

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The database contains information on 873 exonerations for which they have the most detailed evidence.

The defendants in the study spent a combined total of more than 10,000 years in prison -- an average of more than 11 years each. Nine out of 10 of them are men and half are black, according to the AP.

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The earliest cases in the database date back to 1989, when DNA evidence freed its first two prisoners, MSNBC reported.

"We can figure that as sort of the modern period in exonerations because DNA was a big game-changer," University of Michigan Law Professor Samuel Gross, one of the registry's creators, told MSNBC. "It provided a scientific instrument for reviewing cases and providing a different type of evidence about those cases because the technology didn't exist."

In half of the 873 exonerations studied in detail, the most common factor leading to false convictions was perjured testimony or false accusations. Forty-three percent involved mistaken eyewitness identification, and 24 percent involved false or misleading forensic evidence, according to the AP.