Court Battles

2021 exonerees served more than 11 years on average for wrongful convictions: report

Rich Pedroncelli/ AP
Detainees wait in a cell for an appearance in Sacramento County Superior Court in Sacramento, Calif., on Nov. 1, 2016. 

Defendants exonerated in 2021 served an average of more than 11 years for crimes they did not commit, according to a report out Tuesday.

The report from the National Registry of Exoneration said that of the 161 exonerations in 2021, defendants spent an average of 11.5 years incarcerated for their wrongful convictions, totaling 1,849 years in total.

Just under half of the defendants were exonerated in homicide cases. Nine were exonerated of sex crimes, and 24 of other violent crimes including assault, robbery and attempted murder. Fifty-one people were also exonerated for nonviolent crimes.

Over 100 of the exonerations involved official misconduct, the report said.

With 38 exonerated defendants, Illinois had the most such cases of any state, followed by New York with 18 and California and Michigan with 11 each, according to the report. In total, defendants were exonerated in 2021 across 26 states, the territory of Guam and in federal courts.

The National Registry of Exoneration is a collaborative project by the University of California, Irvine, the University of Michigan Law School and the Michigan State University College of Law.

Tuesday’s report also referenced another study from the organization scheduled to be published later this year on race and wrongful convictions.

“African Americans are only 13 percent of the American population but a majority of innocent defendants wrongfully convicted of crimes and later exonerated,” that report, which includes data from 1,900 exonerations, said. 

Tags Michigan State University College of Law National Registry of Exoneration University of California, Irvine University of Michigan Law School Wrongful convictions

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