About the Registry

The National Registry of Exonerations is a project of the University of Michigan Law School. It was founded in 2012 in conjunction with the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law. The Registry provides detailed information about every known exoneration in the United States since 1989—cases in which a person was wrongly convicted of a crime and later cleared of all the charges based on new evidence of innocence.

Exoneration Features

3/30/2015

​The National Registry of Exonerations has added a code that identifies cases in which the evidence against the exoneree included testimony by a jailhouse informant—a witness who was in custody with the exonerated defendant and who testified that the defendant confessed to him.

“Jailhouse snitch” testimony, as it is commonly known, is notoriously unreliable because the incarcerated witnesses are strongly motivated to say what the prosecution wants, usually because they get substantial reductions in their own sentences in return. This problem has been in the news lately. Cameron Todd Willingham was executed for murder by arson in Texas in 2004 based on forensic evidence that was later discredited, and testimony from a jailhouse informant. That informant recently came forward to say that his testimony was false and was procured by a secret deal with the prosecutor. And in Orange County, California, the District Attorney is under fire because an aggressive, illegal and secret program  of using jailhouse informants in murder prosecutions has come to light.

To find the jailhouse informant cases in the Registry, go to the Detailed View  under the Browse Cases tab, place the cursor over the heading “Tags” in the heading bar above the list of cases, click on the down arrow   that appears and choose “JI” (“Jailhouse Informant”) from the drop-down menu. Ctd. at the link.

 

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Browse Cases

We currently list more than 1,570 exonerations. For detailed information browse our ever-growing database.

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For reports, graphs, summaries of our findings, criteria for exoneration, and more visit our Learn More section.


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Recent Exonerations