There have been 280 post-conviction DNA exonerations in United States history. These stories are becoming more familiar as more innocent people gain their freedom through postconviction testing. They are not proof, however, that our system is righting itself.
The common themes that run through these cases — from global problems like poverty and racial issues to criminal justice issues like eyewitness misidentification, invalid or improper forensic science, overzealous police and prosecutors and inept defense counsel — cannot be ignored and continue to plague our criminal justice system.
•Seventeen people had been sentenced to death before DNA proved their innocence and led to their release.
•The average sentence served by DNA exonerees has been 13 years.
•About 70 percent of those exonerated by DNA testing are members of minority groups.
•In almost 40 percent of DNA exoneration cases, the actual perpetrator has been identified by DNA testing.
•Exonerations have been won in 35 states and Washington, D.C.
Innocence Project Case Profiles