OVER 1,850 EXONERATED SINCE 1989
from U.S. prisons for crimes they did not commit.read the profiles
Through the efforts of the Innocence Network and others, over 340 men and women have been released from prison after serving years in prison for crimes they did not commit.read the profiles
This is about people, not statistics. We are primarily concerned with the innocent individual. We are concerned with statistical prevalence of mistaken verdicts only to the extent that it illuminates the plights of individuals and suggests where we can best direct action.
But consider the following: Using DNA testing, more than 300 innocent people have been released from prison after serving an average of 13.6 years for crimes they did not commit. Added together, they were behind bars for over 4013 years. Imagine spending the last thirteen years of your life in prison. Then imagine the effect it would have those who care about you.
Other fixes include changes in Minnesota criminal procedure to preserve biological evidence used to identify perpetrators and to allow those convicted of crimes to more easily use newly discovered evidence. Needed reforms also include education on forensic science. Minnesota has already required the audio taping of interrogations.
We don’t presume bad intent on the part of prosecutors, police, judges, or crime labs. We are, after all, an innocence project so presuming anyone’s guilt would be a dark irony. Of course, there will be individual cases of personal misconduct.
We don’t claim moral superiority over prosecutors, judges, or police. Some of us were prosecutors and police officers. We simply try to act on clear facts to help innocent people and to address correctable flaws in the system. While we believe anyone guilty of misconduct should face consequences, we focus our energies on liberating those convicted of crimes they didn’t commit and preventing the conviction of the innocent.
There is a long tradition of such exceptional intervention, most famously in the executive powers of commutation and pardon, but also in limited exceptions for retrial. There’s always been the possibility of a Governor’s pardon. This is the same principle that underlies our work–we’re a fail-safe in exceptional cases.