The National Registry of Exonerations — A long list of wrongful convictions
Prepare yourself, because this may come as a shock to you: Our criminal justice system is not perfect. Law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges sometimes get it wrong.
In my experience as a Boston criminal defense lawyer, I see mistakes made on an almost daily basis. Often these mistakes are trivial and can be rectified with little impact on the outcome of the case. Sometimes – and certainly more often than we should tolerate – these mistakes and errors in judgment result in the wrongful conviction of an innocent person.
The National Registry of Exonerations recently published a database of U.S. prisoners exonerated of serious crimes since 1989. To qualify as an “exoneree,” a person must have been convicted of a crime and later relieved of all the legal penalties. Among the findings by the database researchers:
- Males constitute 93% of the exonerated defendants.
- The most common crime listed is murder, representing 48% of the exonerations. Sexual assaults are the second most common, at 35%. Robberies constitute 5% of exonerated crimes, and drug, white collar, and non-violent crimes amount to 7%. The availability of DNA testing has led to many of the exonerations in murder and rape cases.
- The most common causes of wrongful convictions are perjury and false accusations, making up 51% of the listed cases. Other common causes include eyewitness mistakes, misconduct by authorities, and false confessions.
- There have been 101 death-row inmates exonerated.
A knowledgeable and experienced Boston criminal defense lawyer can help protect your rights as you move through the criminal justice system. Contact us by phone at 617-492-0055 or by using our online contact form to schedule a free in-office consultation with Attorney Kevin J. Mahoney.
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