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About 4 Percent of Death Row Inmates Are Innocent, Says Study

June 10, 2014

While the following story is a little bit older, the information it contains is useful today, tomorrow, and really at all times. It shows just how flawed the current criminal justice system is, and it ties in nicely with our last post about criminal exonerations.

According to a recent study, roughly 4 percent of people who are on death row are actually innocent. The study was done using mathematical estimations based on current exoneration rates and the death row population. It found that one in 25 people on death row should be exonerated of whatever crime they committed. What's worse (or possibly better, we're not entirely sure) is that the researchers who performed the study believe this is a low estimate.

And that's not all -- it appears that since death row cases are so severe, they are more likely to be investigated for possible exoneration. That makes sense, but what this shows is that people who are accused of serious crimes but are not put on death row have very little chance of their case being reviewed for exoneration. In other words, the threat of the death penalty makes it more likely for a person's criminal case to be reviewed.

It's a stunning report that really shows how shambolic the prison and criminal justice systems are becoming. There are innocent people in jail right now, and their lives have been forever changed by -- or about to be taken by -- a wrongful conviction or crime. Things need to change, and quickly.

Source: Gawker, "Study Estimates 4% of Death Row Inmates Should Be Exonerated," Hamilton Nolan, April 28, 2014