News from the Innocence Project
Press release; Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Contact: Alana Salzberg; 212-364-5983; ASalzberg@innocenceproject.org
New report details this year’s wrongful convictions across 13 states
(NEW YORK, NY; Wednesday, December 21, 2011) – A report released today by the Innocence Network reveals that 21 people across the country were exonerated by Innocence Network member organizations for crimes they didn’t commit in the past year. Two men served more than 3 decades behind bars before being exonerated.
The report, “Innocence Network Exonerations 2011,” provides information about each of this year’s 21 exonerations in 13 states. Misidentification was by far the leading cause of the wrongful convictions that were overturned, but this year also saw false confessions, faulty forensics and police and prosecutorial misconduct as contributing factors.
“These 21 exonerations expose the cracks in our deeply flawed criminal justice system,” said Keith Findley, President of the Innocence Network. “We urge legislators and other political leaders to take notice of these numbers and implement reforms to reduce the risks that such grave injustices will happen in the first place.”
This is the third year that the Innocence Network compiled a report of the year’s exonerations. The 21 people profiled in this year’s report served more than 365combined years in prison before they were finally freed. Each case represents countless hours and sometimes years of ardent advocacy by attorneys, paralegals, investigators and students that comprise the Innocence Network.
In addition to helping overturn wrongful convictions, Innocence Network organizations increasingly work to bring substantive reform to the criminal justice system. Last year, Network member organizations lobbied statehouse across the country for reforms to improve identification procedures, reduce false confessions, put limits on the use of jailhouse informants, improve access to post-conviction DNA testing and ensure compensation for the years lost in prison unjustly.
The Innocence Network increased substantially in 2011, growing to 42 law school-affiliated projects. There are now 64 member organizations, with 55 members in the US and 9 members in other countries. Each organization operates independently but they coordinate to share information and expertise.
Innocence Network members range from successful clinics that have operated for many years at some of the most respected universities to full-fledged nonprofit organizations with a solid staff and base of funding to small clinics at law schools that are still setting up a process to review cases. You can learn more about the Innocence Network or find an organization near you at www.innocencenetwork.org.