News 12.18.09

Year-in-Review: 27 People in the U.S. Exonerated by Innocence Network Organizations in 2009

Contact:  Eric Ferrero; 212-364-5346; eferrero@innocenceproject.org


New report details 27 exonerations in 12 states, freeing people who served a combined 421 years for crimes they did not commit



(NEW YORK, NY; Friday, December 18, 2009) – Twenty-seven people were exonerated by organizations in the Innocence Network this year after serving a combined 421 years in prison for crimes they did not commit, according to

a report released today

.

Thirteen of the 27 exonerations were based on DNA testing, while the other convictions were overturned using other evidence. In all of the cases, indictments were dismissed after convictions were overturned, leading to official exonerations. The 27 cases in 2009 include an unprecedented posthumous exoneration in Texas, nine people who served more than 20 years, and three people who were sentenced to death for crimes they did not commit. Two of the 27 people were exonerated this week alone – Michael Marshall in Georgia and James Bain, who served 35 years in prison before DNA testing proved his innocence and led to his release in Florida on Thursday.

The report, "Innocence Network Exonerations 2009," details each of this year's 27 exonerations in 12 states.  Each case represents countless hours and sometimes years of ardent advocacy by attorneys, paralegals, investigators and students that comprise the Innocence Network. The report comes as the Innocence Network has become a crucial resource for the wrongfully convicted and their families. This year, it grew to include 54 member organizations, 45 of which are in the United States. The Innocence Project, affiliated with Cardozo School of Law, is a founding member of the Innocence Network. Each organization operates independently but they coordinate to share information and expertise.

"Every one of these cases had ripple effects well beyond the innocent person who was in prison. Entire families are forever changed when a loved one is wrongfully convicted, and victims of crime are poorly served when true perpetrators evade justice," said Keith Findley, President of the Innocence Network, Co-Director of the Wisconsin Innocence Project and Clinical Professor at University of Wisconsin Law School. "We need to learn from these cases and prevent wrongful convictions from happening in the first place."

In addition to helping overturn wrongful convictions, Innocence Network organizations increasingly work to bring substantive reform to the criminal justice system. They advocate for improvements in eyewitness identification, forensic science, custodial interrogations, evidence preservation, compensation for the exonerated, and other aspects of the justice system.


More background about the Innocence Network

– including links and contact information for member organizations.


Read the full report here

.

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