Wrongful Conviction Data Simultaneously Encouraging Yet Dismal

In Violent Crimes by RSF

On behalf of Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry posted in Violent Crimes on Thursday, April 18, 2019.

It’s always uplifting to hear that an innocent person languishing behind bars in Missouri or elsewhere is ultimately deemed innocent of a criminal charge and released from prison.

It is alarming to note, though, how many times each year exoneration occurs.

It occurs a lot. Moreover, many criminal law reformers and commentators state that the number of inmates freed from American prisons each year following a tardy determination of their innocence is far lower than it should be. That is, the exoneration figure does not really reflect with accuracy the true number of wrongfully incarcerated individuals who suffer for years – sometimes lifetimes – following convictions for crimes they did not commit.

Here’s a number that leaps out from a report on false convictions that is issued annually by The National Registry of Exonerations: 20,000.

That number signifies how many years were served collectively by innocent inmates who were belatedly adjudged innocent of alleged crimes and released from confinement in 2018.

That’s a “new record,” but hardly a meritorious one. A profile of the registry’s report by the publication Reason notes that “151 people were freed from serving sentences for crimes they did not commit” last year. Sadly, they spent about 11 years behind bars on average.

That is devastating news for any reasonable person to consider, and should easily instill a deep well of empathy for any individual in the United States who is falsely convicted.

It certainly underscores the urgent need that any person facing criminal charges has for focused and aggressive defense counsel.