11 Facts About Wrongful Imprisonment

  1. In the U.S., 303 people have been found innocent through DNA testing after conviction of a crime (DNA exoneration).
  2. The first person to be found innocent through DNA testing was in 1989. Since then, exonerations have occurred in 36 U.S. states.
  3. 18 of the 303 people exonerated through DNA served time on death row. Another 16 of the innocent were charged with capital crimes, but not sentenced to death.
  4. The average length of time served by exonerees is 13.6 years. Innocent prisoners have served a total of 4,041 combined years behind bars.
  5. The average age of persons wrongfully convicted is 27.
  6. There have been tens of thousands of cases since the inception of DNA exoneration where prime suspects were identified and pursued until DNA testing proved their innocence.
  7. Wrongful convictions are caused by false confessions and incriminating statements 25 percent of the time. In fact, 28 of the 303 wrongfully imprisoned pled guilty to crimes that they didn’t commit.
  8. 50 percent of the wrongful imprisonments were due to unvalidated or improper forensic science. They were later overturned by DNA testing.
  9. The leading cause of wrongful convictions was Eyewitness Misidentification Testimony.
  10. Of the 303 exonerees, 188 were African Americans, 86 were Caucasian, 21 were Latino, 2 were Asian American, and 6 are racially unidentified.  
  11. In 147 of the wrongful imprisonment cases, the actual suspects have been identified.

Learn more about wrongful imprisonments. GO

Sources: Innocence Project