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New Report Reveals Record Number of Exonerations in 2014

By Lori Atherton
Jan. 27, 2015

A record 125 exonerations of wrongly convicted criminals were recorded in 2014, according to a new report released Jan. 27 by the National Registry of Exonerations.

This is the first time the Registry, a project of Michigan Law School, has documented more than 100 exonerations in a year. In 2013, the Registry recorded 91 exonerations.

"The big story for the year is that more prosecutors are working hard to identify and investigate claims of innocence. And many more innocent defendants were exonerated after pleading guilty to crimes they did not commit," said Michigan Law Professor Samuel Gross, the editor of the National Registry of Exonerations and the author of Exonerations in 2014.

According to the report, 47 of the 125 exonerees in 2014—or 38 percent—were exonerated for crimes to which they had pled guilty. Nearly half of the known exonerations last year—46 percent—were cases where no crime had occurred.

The states with the most exonerations in 2014 were Texas (39), New York (17), Illinois (7), Michigan (7), Ohio (6), North Carolina (4), Louisiana (3), Maryland (3), Oregon (3), Pennsylvania (3), and Tennessee (3). While these states have the most recorded exonerations, they are not necessarily those where most false convictions have occurred.

Launched in 2012, the National Registry of Exonerations provides detailed information about every known exoneration—currently 1,536—in the United States since 1989. The cases are those in which a person was wrongly convicted of a crime and later cleared of all charges based on new evidence of innocence.

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