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Time spent in prison by innocent people reaches new high

On Behalf of | Apr 15, 2019 | Criminal Defense |

Missouri residents might like to know about the new records regarding exonerations from prison set in 2018. Last year, 151 people were exonerated after serving a combined total of 1,639 years in prison, resulting in an average of 11 years for each person. The National Registry of Exonerations tracks data involving people released from prison after being falsely convicted, and the group said the amount of time spent behind bars is a new record.

Perhaps related to the longer amount of time served, another milestone occurred in 2018 related to the time falsely imprisoned people spent locked up. TNRE tracks exonerations that happened from 1989 to the present, and the length of time spent in prison by all exonerated people has now exceeded 20,000 years.

2018 also marked records for the longest-serving prisoners who were wrongly convicted and exonerated. One man convicted of murder in 1972 served 45 years in Michigan while another man spent 44 years in prison for a sexual assault conviction that took place in Louisiana. Questionable testimony led to the conviction of both men.

In addition to testimony issues, other reasons for false convictions were official misconduct and false confessions. Another reason for 70 exonerations in 2018 was that the crimes people were convicted of did not even happen. For example, a sexual assault conviction was overturned when experts concluded that no assault occurred and injuries to the victim might have happened after being struck by a car.

Unfortunately, the misconception exists that people charged with a crime must have done something wrong. Data from groups like this help to correct this faulty line of thinking, and everyone charged with an offense deserves the presumption of innocence. To get the most favorable result from the justice system, one might need an attorney’s assistance with criminal defense matters like fighting charges or negotiating a plea.