A study recently completed by the University of Michigan Law School and Center of Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law, conclude that over 2,000 people, that is, over 86 people per year, have been wrongfully convicted and sent to prison for a serious crime over the past 23 years. Sadly, it is universally believed that this number is low. Some people exonerated over the past 23 years may not have been found by those conducting the study. The other problem is that this study only looks at the exonerated – it does not account for the innocent people wrongfully convicted and still in prison over the last 23 years.

 

How can this happen? It happens when a nation, The United States, convicts over 1,000,000 people a year for felonies. Is it impossible to fathom 1,000, 000 people convicted of committing felonies annually? Is it easy to comprehend a legal system designed to handle that many serious crimes? The study found that the most common error that led to false convictions was perjured or false testimony (50%). The second leading area contributing to false convictions is mistaken eyewitness identification (43%), with false or misleading forensic evidence leading to twenty-three percent (23%) of the false convictions studied. Perjury or false testimony was the most common factor (2 out of 3) that led to false convictions for homicide. Mistaken eyewitness identification was the leading factor in false convictions (4 out of 5) in sexual assault cases.

Those wrongly convicted of serious felonies spend an average of 11 years in prison before being released. This assumes that the wrongly accused has someone who cares enough about them to pursue their case relentlessly for years and has the financial means to do so.

Pray for the wrongly convicted, the innocent men and women in prison. Pray that their innocence be discovered and that they be released. Unfortunately, it is true, innocent people are in prison.

 

 

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