While the average time spent in prison for all of the exonerees in the National Registry of Exonerations is just under nine years, there have been some prisoners who spent an extraordinary amount of time imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. The Registry calculates prison time from the date of conviction. Therefore, our calculations exclude time spent incarcerated prior to conviction. The following is a list of the 182 exonerees who spent at least 25 years in prison prior to exoneration.
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.