No. of Wrongful Convictions Since 1989: More Than 2K
New registry focuses on flaws in criminal justice system
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted May 21, 2012 8:08 AM CDT
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(Newser) – Word of wrongful convictions pops into the news frequently, but a new registry puts a number on just how often: By its count, more than 2,000 people have been exonerated of serious crimes since 1989. The National Registry of Exonerations claims to be the largest database of its kind, and it covers the era since DNA testing began to be commonly used. Many of the wrongful convictions can be traced to police corruption and witnesses who lied or later recanted, but there has also been a surprising number of people who confessed to crimes they didn't commit while under intense interrogation.

"Nobody had an inkling of the serious problem of false confessions until we had this data," says an executive director of Northwestern University's Center on Wrongful Convictions, which compiled the registry along with the University of Michigan Law School. Sponsors hope the registry will shed light on the mistakes of the criminal justice system, allowing them to be prevented in the future, the Los Angeles Times reports. Of all the states, Illinois has the most exonerations listed, but a University of Michigan law professor says more data is needed to make true comparisons: "It's clear that the exonerations we found are the tip of the iceberg."

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Showing 3 of 9 comments
ddhartma
May 21, 2012 4:56 PM CDT
An example of this is found in John Grisham's non-fictional book "The Innocent Man".
winterfairy
May 21, 2012 4:40 PM CDT
One major problem I see is that jurors are not taught how to be a good juror. Lawyers sway them with emotion, racism and other distractions from the facts. Lawyer bullshit and baffling are also used. Jurors should be allowed to take notes and ask questions just to start. Also, I could almost lean toward the idea of professional jurors that get paid. After seeing some of the nitwits on the juries I have seen.
ExceleRater
May 21, 2012 12:38 PM CDT
Nothing makes me more angry than hearing of a prosecutor or judge who has been presented with significant evidence that he/she has jailed an innocent person, and they won't concede, probably because it will hurt their record. I cannot imagine the kind of jerk who lets an innocent person sit in jail.