It is a victory every time a wrongful conviction gets overturned, but it’s also heartbreaking because it proves that someone spent time in jail even though they did nothing to deserve it. They may have been behind bars for months, years or even decades. Some never thought they would get out until DNA evidence exonerated them, and they were released.
By looking at how these overturned convictions stack up and what the statistics tell us, we can learn a little more about why they happen. Below are a handful of key facts to keep in mind:
- In 28 percent of the overturned cases thus far, people actually claimed they were guilty. These are false confessions.
- In 45 percent of the cases, while forensic science was used in the case, it was not applied properly. A simple mistake can make a big difference in someone’s life.
- 61 percent of those who were released were African Americans, while only 30 percent were Caucasian.
- These issues happen all across the United States, with overturned cases in a full 37 different states.
- In total, those who spent time behind bars served a combined 5,014 years before they were released. How many other innocent people are still in prison, just adding to the total, even today?
- The average age at which their cases were overturned was 43 years old. It is clear that many lost significant portions of their lives to these judicial mistakes.
If you are heading to court, it is important to keep these facts in mind while considering your defense options. You also need to know what to do if you have been wrongfully convicted.