A new custom database has been set up between the University of Michigan Law School and the Northwestern Law School to maintain all known exonerations in the United States since 1989. According to the database, there are currently 891 exonerations, 101 of which have come from inmates who had been sentenced to death row.
According to the custom database, 51 percent of exonerations came about after investigators discovered perjury or false accusation and 42 percent were attributed to official misconduct. Furthermore, 63 percent of criminals who were found guilty were exonerated without the help of DNA evidence, while only 37 percent were freed with the evidence.
DNA exonerations are increasingly used to reverse older convictions, with the average sentence lasting 18 years before an individual's name could be cleared.
"The most important goal of the [criminal justice] system is accuracy," said University of Michigan Law School professor Samuel Gross, one of the database's founders, to the Huffington Post. "Getting the right person and not getting the wrong person are obviously the most important goals. The only way to get those are to learn how we made our mistakes."
Counties that hold the most exonerations are ones that contain major metropolises. For example the counties comprising Chicago (the highest), Dallas, Los Angeles, Boston, Detroit, Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan and New Orleans made nine out of the top 10 for the largest number of exonerations. Furthermore, according to the Huffington Post, Dallas County has had 21 exonerations since 2007 – the most of any county in that time period.
The Post attributes this drastic increase to Dallas' exceptional record keeping and a custom database. According to the news source, DNA evidence in the county is sent to a lab that properly classifies and stores it. This practice has gone on for decades and has provided a wealth of information for advocates and exonerations.
Powered by Facebook Comments