First ever national list of exonerees presents overwhelming stats
The University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law have assembled a registry of every U.S. exoneration a list of every U.S. exoneration since 1989. It currently contains 891 cases. Each case profile includes a description of their conviction and exoneration; facts about time, place, age, etc; and most interestingly when presented blatantly, the contributing factors and additional convictions that went into their overall sentence.
As if that number does not shame enough, consider that there are around 1200 other exonerations excluded for lack of detail. With an average of 11 years in prison, all added together they allot over 10,000 years. This list provides us with the opportunity to really acknowledge the vast amount of prison expenditure and, more importantly, life that wrongful convictions have wasted.
This New York Times article jots statistics pertaining to gender, race, crimes of eyewitness misidentification, counties with no exonerations, etc. that the list has given light to.
California likely to abolish the death penalty
California may join the four states in the last five years to replace the death penalty with an unappealable life sentence should a November ballot measure get passed. The likelihood looks bright, as even two former Republican prosecutors have publicly stated that capital punishment is ineffective. Former San Quentin State Prison Warden, Jeanne Woodford, oversaw four executions and is backing the change.
The likelihood of at least one innocent person out of the more than 700 death row inmates, topped with the $183 million extra it cost the state last year to administer the death penalty, gives former L.A. Count Dist. Atty. Gil Garcetti enough reason to support the change.
Texas defines “actual innocence”
A Texas court has finally conceded to give a total of $2 million in post-conviction compensation to 26-year imprisoned Billy Frederick Allen. Their hesitation sourced from a question of his “actual innocence.” This affected a discussion and decision upon defining this term as either exoneration by DNA testing of new evidence or a revealing of a constitutional error occurring during the trial.
The latter was imposed by Allen’s case, as new evidence was disregarded by his attorney upon retrial. Charges were dropped for the lackluster assistance given to him, as no other suspect was presented as the killer. While Allen may not have been replaced, he still served 26 years due to poor practice. The compensation should be decided by that, as it has rightfully so.