Imagine Having a Decade of Your Life Erased. It Happened to 161 People Exonerated from Prison in 2021.
Last year, 161 people were exonerated for crimes ranging from drug dealing and possession all the way up to murder. People wrongfully convicted of murder made up nearly half of the exonerations, with 75 in all. An average exoneree served 11.5 years in prison before being cleared and freed.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Registry—a product of the law programs at the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and the University of California, Irvine’s Newkirk Center for Science and Society. Though the registry is only 10 years old, the exoneration records it uses to calculate total numbers and trends go back to 1989. Since 1989, the Registry has counted more than 3,061 exonerations. Taken together, those prisoners lost nearly 27,000 years of life before being exonerated.
As with the Registry’s last annual report, official misconduct by prosecutors or police played a huge role in explaining how innocent people end up behind bars for years. Official misconduct played a role in 102 of last year’s exonerations. In more than three-quarters of the murder cases that ultimately led to exonerations in 2021, misconduct contributed to the false conviction.
The report notes that the role misconduct plays in faulty convictions has increased in part due to increases in exonerations for drug-related cases and also as result of greater understanding by the public and the courts about bad police behavior:
A majority of those drug cases involved perjury or false accusation, mainly by police officers who framed innocent people. But the increase also represents increased awareness by courts of other kinds of official misconduct, such as forensic fraud and the failure by police and prosecutors to disclose exculpatory evidence.
Illinois ended up being the state with the most
Article from Reason.com