Innocence and the Death Penalty

Exonerations in the USA

  • Total number of death row exonerations in the USA since 1973: 151
  • Approximately 60% of all death row exonerees are non-white
  • From 2000-2007, there have been an average of 5 exonerations per year

  • Average number of years between being sentenced to death and exoneration: 10.1 years

  • Number of cases in which DNA played a substantial factor in establishing innocence: 18
  • To see a complete list of exonerations maintained by DPIC:

  • DPIC's criteria for inclusion: Defendants must have been convicted, sentenced to death and subsequently either: a) their conviction was overturned AND i) they were acquitted at re-trial or ii) all charges were dropped; or b) they were given an absolute pardon by the Governor based on new evidence of innocence

  • The most common causes of wrongful convictions are; eyewitness error, government misconduct, junk science, snitch testimony and false confessions

California Exonerations

  • There have been 3 people exonerated from California's death row.
  • Ernest "Shujaa" Graham was exonerated in 1981, 5 years after conviction.
  • Troy Jones was exonerated in 1996, 14 years after conviction.
  • Oscar Morris was exonerated in 2000, 17 years after conviction.
  • There was no DNA evidence in any of these cases.

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