From the National Registry of Exonerations:
We’ve now completed an updated report covering the first 1,600 Exonerations in the Registry, an 82% increase over our initial report. (In the meantime, of course, we continue to add cases every week. We’re at 1,615 as of this writing.)
Here are some of the notable changes we see at the 1,600 milepost:
- The Rapid Growth of the Registry—more than 700 cases added since our first report—is driven by two factors:
- DNA Exonerations are Down as a fraction of all exonerations, from 37% in March 2012 to 25% now. This reflects two trends: (i) The annual number of new DNA exonerations has remained essentially flat since 2011 at about 20 a year, while the number of non-DNA exonerations has soared, from 49 in 2011 to 106 in 2014. (ii) We have found many previously unknown non-DNA exonerations but hardly any previously unknown DNA exonerations.
- The Proportion of Exonerations for Non-Violent Crimes has increased from 7% of the total to 14%. Known misdemeanor exonerations are also up—from zero three years ago to 23—but they’re still only 1.4% of the total.
- The Proportion of Female Exonerees has Increased from 7% to 9% of the total. Most of this increase reflects the increase in the proportion of non-violent crime exonerations, 19% of which have female exonerees, compared to 7.6% for violent crimes.
- Drug Exonerations Increased by a Factor of 5, from 25 to 126. They account for 60% of the increase for all non-violent crimes. Almost 60% of the new drug-crime exonerees since 2012 are defendants who pled guilty in a single jurisdiction, Harris County, Texas (Houston), and were cleared when crime lab tests found no illegal drugs in the materials seized from them. Almost all these exonerations were instigated by the Harris County District Attorney’s Post Conviction Review Section in the past year.
- Exonerations of Defendants who Pled Guilty are Up, from 8% to 13%. This increase is due primarily to the sharp rise in the number of exonerations for drug convictions, more than 60% of which were obtained by guilty pleas, mostly in Harris County, Texas.
- The Percentage of No-Crime Exonerations has risen. Cases in which defendants were exonerated after conviction for crimes that never occurred increased from 15% to 27%. Part of that change is due to the increase in drug-crime exonerations, 70% of which are no-crime cases, but 24% of non-drug exonerations are now also no-crime cases.
There has been a rapid increase in the rate of new exonerations, from 70 in 2011, to 128 in 2104.
We’ve found many older exonerations that we didn’t know about. Most of the cases we added after our initial report took place before that report was written, and many were posted years after they occurred.