The Lyrical Elitist

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125 Prisoners Exonerated in 2014 in the United States

125 Prisoners Exonerated in 2014 in the United States

A recent tally shows that hundreds of Americans have been imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit.

A record 125 exonerations were reported in the U.S. last year in cases where convictions for serious crimes were reversed, sometimes decades after the original offense.

Six exonerations were from Ohio, which was fifth behind Texas (39), New York (17), Illinois (7) and Michigan (7), according to the National Registry of Exonerations report released today.

The six Ohio men exonerated had served a combined 173 years in prison: Kwame Ajamu (Cleveland, murder); Wiley Bridgemen (Cleveland, murder); Joel Covender (Lorain, child sex abuse); Ricky Jackson (Cleveland, murder); Dewey Jones (Akron, murder); and Anthony Lemons (Cleveland, murder).

The annual exonerations report, compiled since 1989 by the University of Michigan Law School, found 125 cases nationally in which people eventually were found innocent after prior criminal convictions. That topped the previous high of 91 exonerations in 2013. The registry has cited 1,535 wrongful convictions in the past 16 years.

Samuel Gross, the Michigan law professor who edits the registry, said more significant than the increase in exonerations was that 54 percent of the clearances of innocent people were initiated or supported by law enforcement and prosecutors.

“The big story for the year is that more prosecutors are working hard to identify and investigate claims of innocence. And many more innocent defendants were exonerated after pleading guilty to crimes they did not commit,” Gross said in a statement.

The big increase was fueled in part by 33 cases in Houston, where crime-lab analyses proved to be wrong in detecting illegal drugs.

The registry tracks cases in which someone has been convicted of a crime but later is proved innocent by DNA evidence or other means. The crimes range from murder and child abuse to sexual assault and drugs.

The full National Registry of Exonerations report is available online.

Source:
The Columbus Dispatch

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