Study Unveils Startling Statistics on Wrongful Convictions

Posted on June 11, 2012 at 2:03pm by

A study released by the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University and the University of Michigan Law School reveals many eye-opening statistics on wrongful convictions and exonerations. As more convictions are overturned and innocent citizens exonerated, it makes you wonder how many more people are still wrongfully imprisoned in the United States.

According to reports, there have been 873 exonerations in the United States since 1989. The same report cited 1,170 cases in which police framed innocent persons since 1995, usually for drug and gun charges. Here are some other shocking statistics revealed in the report:

  • Approximately 90 percent of exonerated persons are male.
  • 50 percent of exonerated persons are African-American and 11 percent are Latino.
  • Approximately 50 percent of the exonerated persons were convicted on homicide charges; one third were for sexual assaults. 101 persons had been sentenced to death.
  • The average wrongfully convicted person spent 11.9 years incarcerated.
  • The shortest time a person wrongfully served was three weeks; the longest was 41 years.
  • The most common causes for the wrongful convictions were lying witnesses and false eyewitness testimony.
  • Illinois, New York  and Texas were the three states with the most wrongful convictions.

Wrongful convictions are preventable. State attorneys and judges are usually elected officials who need to held accountable when these wrongful convictions occur on their watch. If you or a loved one is facing charges, contact an attorney immediately.

Law Office of Christine Harris—Dallas criminal justice attorney.



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