In Louisiana and throughout the country, new interest in exonerations has sparked, likely because of stories like that of the Central Park Five. While it seems much of the media attention is on those who have been exonerated for crimes they did not commit, is it really all that common? According to Time Magazine, more people than ever before are being exonerated.
In the last five decades, there have been at least 166 people who were wrongfully convicted who have been released. The National Registry of Exonerations shows that there are three exonerations each week on average. This amount has doubled since 2011. Many believe that the uptick in numbers can partly be attributed to increased accountability standards in prosecution offices around the country. Others can be attributed to better technology, such as DNA, that allows the innocent to prove they were not involved in a crime.
Studies show that of every 100 inmates who are sentenced to death, two have been exonerated but four are likely innocent of the crime they were convicted of. This means that there could be thousands of people in jail or prison who are innocent while the real criminals get off the hook and often continue to commit crimes.
Another troubling number is the 19 people who were exonerated after they died. Even with a conviction overturned, the wrongfully convicted lose large chunks of their lives and many have a hard time moving on in society after being in prison for a time. Of the exonerated, one in three had a minimum sentence of 50 years served in prison. On average, the exonerated served 8.8 years in prison before being vindicated.