Here are links to extensive news coverage of the National Registry of Exonerations.
"Study: 2,000 convicted then exonerated in 23 years," is the AP report filed by Pete Yost. It's via the Pioneer Press.
More than 2,000 people who were falsely convicted of serious crimes have been exonerated in the United States in the past 23 years, according to a new archive compiled at two universities.
There is no official record-keeping system for exonerations of convicted criminals in the country, so academics set one up. The new national registry, or database, painstakingly assembled by the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law, is the most complete list of exonerations ever compiled.
The database compiled and analyzed by the researchers contains information on 873 exonerations for which they have the most detailed evidence. The researchers are aware of nearly 1,200 other exonerations, for which they have less data.
They found that those 873 exonerated defendants spent a combined total of more than 10,000 years in prison, an average of more than 11 years each. Nine out of 10 of them are men and half are African-American.
Nearly half of the 873 exonerations were homicide cases, including 101 death sentences. Over one-third of the cases were sexual assaults.
DNA evidence led to exoneration in nearly one-third of the 416 homicides and in nearly two-thirds of the 305 sexual assaults.
Researchers estimate the total number of felony convictions in the United States is nearly a million a year.
The overall registry/list begins at the start of 1989. It
gives an unprecedented view of the scope of the problem of wrongful convictions in the United States and the figure of more than 2,000 exonerations "is a good start," said Rob Warden, executive director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions.
"Proven innocent after proven guilty," by Carlyn Kolker for ReutersLegal.
Exoneration. It is one of the most redeeming concepts in the American legal system -- the possibility that the justice system will liberate a person who was falsely convicted of a crime. But it is of course also one of the most terrifying aspects of that same system, predicated on the existence of actual failures.
The National Registry of Exonerations, formally inaugurated today by the University of Michigan and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern, contains nearly 900 examples of that paradox. The stories, of everyone from white collar defendants to convicted murderers, focus on how these criminal defendants were convicted, and then, thanks to DNA evidence and re-canted testimony, among other things, were subsequently released, sometimes decades after their convictions.
The list dates from 1989 to the present and includes 885 examples from both federal court and state courts around the country. It is something of an information-gathering feat: No authoritative data base on exonerations already exists, and information on individual cases is scattered across a range of different sources, according to Samuel Gross, the University of Michigan law professor who made the registry.
The "easy" cases to identify were ones already investigated by non-profit legal groups such as the Innocence Project, which focuses on exonerating wrongfully-convicted defendants in death-penalty cases. But beyond that, Gross and his assistants (he had about 18 helpers, some volunteer, some part-time) scoured the Internet, newspapers, state and federal court records and interviewed attorneys to come up with the list of defendants across the country - most cases occurred in state courts - about whom they could gather proof that they'd been exonerated for crimes they didn't commit.
"Wrongful convictions shine spotlight on judicial system," by Kevin Johnson, USA Today.
Perjury, faulty eyewitness identification and prosecutorial misconduct are the leading reasons for wrongful convictions, according to the first national registry of exonerations compiled by university researchers.
The database, assembled in a collaboration by the University of Michigan and Northwestern University, has identified 873 faulty convictions in the past 23 years that have been recognized by prosecutors, judges or governors.
The registry's founders say the numbers, which do not include many cases in which innocent suspects plead guilty to avoid the risk of more serious punishments or cases that have been dismissed because of legal error without new evidence of innocence, represent only a fraction of the problem in the nation's criminal justice system.
"What this shows is that the criminal justice system makes mistakes, and they are more common than people think," said University of Michigan law professor Samuel Gross, the registry's editor. "It is not the rule, but we won't learn to get better unless we pay attention to these cases."
Despite the data, the registry concluded that the "overwhelming majority of convicted defendants are guilty."
"New national registry lists exonerations from wrongful convictions," is by Michael Doyle for McClatchy Newspapers. It's via the Miami Herald.
Obie Anthony served hard time in California prisons for a crime he didn't commit.
He's not alone, and he's not forgotten. Anthony is one of nearly 900 exonerated former prisoners whose wrenching stories are wrapped into a new database. The National Registry of Exonerations, formally unveiled Monday, is the largest of its kind, and it will get bigger over time.
"This is useful, because if we want to prevent false convictions, we have to learn how we make mistakes," Samuel Gross, a University of Michigan Law School professor, said in an interview.
Gross is the editor of the registry, a joint project of the Michigan law school and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law. By compiling detailed information about an initial 891 exonerations that have been identified since 1989, the organizers say they already have begun to identify disturbing patterns.
Perjury from witnesses was found to be the biggest problem for those wrongfully convicted of murder, the database shows. Mistakes by eyewitnesses are almost always the cause of wrongful rape convictions. In either case, the consequences are severe. About half of the exonerated individuals had been in prison for at least 10 years; 75 percent served five years or more.
"Registry tallies over 2,000 wrongful convictions since 1989," by David G. Savage for the Los Angles Times and the Tribune News Service.
The registry covers the period since DNA came into common use and revealed, to the surprise of many prosecutors and judges, that a significant number of convicted rapists and murderers were innocent. The Innocence Project in New York says DNA alone has freed 289 prisoners since 1989.
Criminal law experts have been studying the growing number of exonerations. Some cases have involved police corruption or witnesses who recanted. Experts have also pointed to faulty eyewitness testimony and lying witnesses as common problems.
Beyond that, a surprising number of cases involved suspects who confessed to crimes they didn't commit.
"Nobody had an inkling of the serious problem of false confessions until we had this data," said Rob Warden, executive director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University. Under persistent and prolonged questioning by investigators, some suspects confessed to crimes such as rape, even though DNA later revealed they were not the perpetrators.
Among the states, Illinois has the most exonerations listed in the new registry, and among counties, Cook County and Chicago led the way, followed by Dallas and Los Angeles. However, the sponsors of the new registry do not contend that their data permits strong comparisons across counties or states because only about 900 of the cases were examined in detail by jurisdiction.
"It's clear that the exonerations we found are the tip of the iceberg," Gross said.
"Researchers: More than 2,000 false convictions in past 23 years," by Elizabeth Chuck at MSNBC.
There is also regional coverage of the report. "National study tracks number of people falsely convicted of crime," is by Tracey Kaplan for the Silicon Valley Mercury News.
"Report breaks down wrongful convictions," by Alan Johnson for the Columbus Dispatch.
"New national registry details wrongful convictions," by Paul Purpura for the New Orleans Times-Picayune