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Exonerations due to wrongful convictions: The stats

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2019 | Appeals, Post-conviction Relief |

Since 1989, 2,468 people have been exonerated of their crimes nationwide. This number accumulates to over 21,000 years of life lost in prison for crimes they didn’t commit. An average of nearly nine years lost per case.

Since 1989, 19 men and women were exonerated in Oregon – totaling 74 years of life lost. An average of nearly four years per case.

In 2018, courts exonerated 160 men and women of their crimes. The total amount of years these individuals lost due to their wrongful convictions; 1,659 years. The average years lost per case was over 10 years.

The factors tied to wrongful conviction

Poor decisions send innocent people to prison for any number of reasons, but mismanaged forensic sciences, which leads to wrongful convictions, has lead to 45% of wrongful convictions in the United States linked to DNA evidence. In addition, poor forensic evidence contributed to 23% of all wrongful convictions throughout the U.S.

What other factors, since 1989, have led to men and women losing years of their lives in 2,471 cases?

  • Mistaken witness identification: 28% or 703 cases
  • Perjury or false accusation: 58% or 1,439 cases
  • False confessions: 12% or 299 cases
  • Official misconduct: 54% or 1,323 cases

In 2015, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced that in 95% of the 268 hair comparison cases, their experts unintentionally misrepresented the similarities of the hair found at the crime scene and the defendant’s hair.

When government entities admit their mistakes, it can be a relief and a catalyst for those hoping to adapt laws. It can also be a mental burden to the wrongfully convicted. Even with constant advancements in forensic technology and reformed laws, securing qualified representation will aid you in the battle to avoid a wrongful conviction or receive an exoneration.