A “record-breaking” number of exonerations occurred in 2013, according to a new report released by the National Registry of Exonerations, a joint project of the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law.
There were 87 known exonerations in 2013, four more than were recorded in the previous highest year, 2009. There have been at least 1,300 exonerations in the last 25 years, according to the report.
The use of DNA evidence in exonerations has gradually declined since 2005, according to the report. In 2013, about one in five exonerations relied on DNA evidence.
Nearly one in three (27) exonerations in 2013 were in cases in which no crime had actually occurred, and 15 exonerations occurred in cases in which the defendant had pleaded guilty.
“The pattern of exonerations in 2013 suggests that we are increasingly willing to consider and act on the types of innocence claims that are often ignored,” researchers wrote.
“Those without biological evidence or with no actual perpetrator; cases with comparatively light sentences; judgments based on guilty pleas by defendants who accepted plea bargains to avoid the risk of extreme punishment after trial.”
Read the full report HERE.