Texas in 2013 exonerated more people who were wrongfully convicted of crimes than any other state, according to a new report from the National Registry of Exonerations.
Thirteen Texans were officially absolved of wrongdoing last year for crimes ranging from murder to drug possession. Some had spent more than a decade in prison, and others a few months. The state with the second-most exonerations was Illinois, with nine, followed by New York, with eight.
The national registry, a joint project of the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at the Northwestern University School of Law, was launched in 2012. It tracks every known exoneration in the United States since 1989. Texas has 133 exonerations listed. Only New York, with 152, and California, with 136, have more.
The project’s directors stress that many more wrongful convictions never make the list.
“There are many false convictions that we don’t know about,” said Samuel Gross, editor of the registry and co-author of the report. “The exonerations we know about are only the tip of the iceberg.”See related coverage from the New York Times and the Wrongful Convictions Blog. Here's the list of Texas exonerations from the registry, only a few of which received statewide attention.
Of course, the 13 Texas exonerations listed for last year don't include cases like the San Antonio Four or Fran and Dan Keller, all of whom were released on habeas corpus writs because the junk science underlying their conviction was disproven, but weren't declared "actually innocent" by the courts. Grits views such lists like one would a pollster's sample - an indication of the variety of potential causes and types of wrongful convictions but by no means a comprehensive assessment.