Announcing: The National Registry of Exonerations

From the Death Penalty Information Center:

The University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University announced the start of the first National Registry of Exonerations and released an extensive report discussing the problem of wrongful convictions in the U.S.  The Registry contains information on nearly 900 people who were falsely convicted of serious crimes, including many who were sentenced to death, and who have been exonerated since 1989.  It is by far the largest collection of such cases and will be updated on an ongoing basis.  The authors believe that many more such cases exist, including over 1,000 cases from “group exonerations” involving official misconduct that are discussed in the report.

While not entirely user friendly at times, this online registry is an incredible resource and shows the sheer volume of exonerations. It’s interesting to note that this registry uses different standards than the Death Penalty Information Center’s Innocence List, so there are different numbers of exonerees. DPIC uses the following criteria:

For Inclusion on DPIC’s Innocence List:

Defendants must have been convicted, sentenced to death and subsequently either-
a) their conviction was overturned AND

i) they were acquitted at re-trial or
ii) all charges were dropped
b) they were given an absolute pardon by the governor based on new evidence of innocence.
This means there are cases in which innocence has been an issue, but that may not have made it onto the list. For example, in the case of the recently released West Memphis 3, they do not appear on the DPIC list because they took an Alford plea and pled guilty to the charges while maintaining their innocence.
So while by DPIC standards there are 23 exonerees in Florida, this registry lists 32. Interestingly enough, despite what’s obviously a more inclusive set of criteria for inclusion on this list, there are still some notable Florida cases/names that do not appear, such as that of Sonia Jacobs. I haven’t had time to dig into the site yet and find the criteria, but I’ll be posting more about it soon. In the meantime, take a few minutes and check it out here: http://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Pages/about.aspx

 

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