All NRE reports represent a moment in time. For the most accurate data, please search on the Detailed View page. The website is updated daily, frequently with exonerations that occurred in the past.
DNA: Post-conviction DNA testing was conducted and contributed to the exoneration. Cases denoted "DNA" are cases in which post-conviction DNA testing, analysis, or interpretation was conducted and the results were a factor in establishing the factual basis of the exoneration. This is a heterogeneous group with respect to the informativeness of the DNA testing and the degree to which the results influenced the decision to vacate the conviction.
The term “DNA exoneration" has been used in a variety of contexts and by a variety of authors, and the meaning of the term is not always clear. It has been used to describe both this broader set of cases and a narrower set of cases curated by the Innocence Project in which post-conviction DNA evidence was central to establishing innocence. The Innocence Project stopped maintaining this list in early 2020. The first 375 “DNA exonerations" listed by the Innocence Project and statistics about them are available from the Innocence Project. A spreadsheet which allows researchers to identify these cases is available from the Registry upon request. For more information on exonerations that have included DNA testing, see the Report below.
The Contribution of Forensic and Expert Evidence to DNA Exoneration Cases, An Interim Report - 16 December 2022
Changes in DNA Exonerations Over Time – 7 November 2022DNA exonerations have always been a minority of all exonerations, and the nature of DNA exonerations has been changing over the years -- both in the underlying crimes and the importance of non-DNA factors. Read more.
Comment: New Study Estimates Rate of False Convictions at 11.6% – 05 December 2017Based on DNA tests of biological evidence from convictions in 1973 to 1987, a new report by the Urban Institute in Washington DC estimates that the defendants were innocent in 11.6% percent of rape and rape-murder convictions in Virginia from in the 1970s and 1980s. This comment reviews the conclusions reached in the study.
The National Registry of Exonerations is a project of the Newkirk Center for Science & Society at University of California Irvine, the University of Michigan Law School and Michigan State University College of Law. 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. The Registry also maintains a more limited database of known exonerations prior to 1989.
We welcome new information from any source about exonerations already on our list and about cases not in the Registry that might be exonerations.