Jerry Miller, a former Army cook who spent nearly 25 years in prison for a rape he did not commit is scheduled today in Chicago to become the 200th person exonerated by DNA evidence, says USA Today. The New York-based Innocence Project says the 100th exoneration occurred in January 2002, 13 years after the first exoneration. It took just more than five years for the number to double. “Clearly, there are plenty of innocent persons still in prison,” says the Innocence Project’s Barry Scheck. David Lazer, a Harvard University public policy professor, says improved testing technology and an increase in the number of lawyers taking on DNA cases should result in a continued increase in the number of wrongful convictions that are set aside.
Joshua Marquis of the National District Attorneys Association, chief prosecutor in Clatsop County, Or., says the “tiny number” of exonerations suggests that the “epidemic of bad convictions” claimed by Scheck is “fiction.” There were 1,051,000 state felony convictions, up from 829,300 in 1990, says the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.