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Saturday, 15 November 2014

Wrongful convictions

As of June 2014, 316 people previously convicted of serious crimes in the United States had been exonerated by DNA testing since 1989, 18 of whom had been sentenced to death.[2] Almost all (99%) of the convictions proven to be false were of males,[9] with minority groups also disproportionately represented (approximately 70%).[2] The National Registry of Exonerations lists 1,383 convicted felons who were exonerated through DNA and non-DNA evidence.[10] According to a study published in 2014, more than 4% of persons sentenced to death from 1973 to 2004 are probably innocent.[11] The following are some examples of notable exonerations:
  • In 2004, Darryl Hunt was exonerated after serving 19 and a half years in prison of a life sentence for the rape and murder of a newspaper copy editor, Deborah Sykes.
  • In 2007, after an investigation begun by The Innocence Project, James Calvin Tillman was exonerated after serving 16.5 years in prison for a rape he did not commit. His sentence was 45 years.
  • In 2007, Lynn DeJac's 1994 conviction was reversed on the basis of DNA evidence. She had been convicted of murdering her daughter Crystallynn Girard on February 13, 1993. She was the first woman to be exonerated of murder on the basis of DNA evidence.[12]
  • In 2007, Floyd Brown was exonerated for the murder of an 80-year-old woman in Wadesboro, NC. Brown had served 14 years in Dorothea Dix Hospital and had the mental capacity of a 7-year-old. He had been convicted solely on the basis of a false confession by a State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) agent, who claimed that Brown had dictated the confession to him; however, Brown's mental state precluded that possibility. Floyd sued the state of North Carolina following his release.[13]
  • In December 2009, James Bain was exonerated by DNA testing for a kidnapping, burglary, and rape he did not commit. Bain's appeal had previously been denied four separate times. His 35-year imprisonment made him the longest-incarcerated victim of a wrongful conviction to be freed through DNA evidence.[14][15]
  • In June 2010, Barry Gibbs was awarded the largest civil rights settlement by the City of New York to date of $9.9 million.[16] He received an additional $1.9 million settlement from New York state in late 2009. He was wrongly convicted of the 1986 murder of Brooklyn prostitute Virginia Robertson based on coerced testimony by a witness during the investigation by NYPD detective Louis Eppolito, who was later convicted for serving as a mob hit man on the side. Gibbs's original sentence was 20 years to life, of which he served just under 19 years. Gibbs had been repeatedly denied parole because of his lack of admission of guilt. Gibbs was exonerated in 2006 with help from the Innocence Project.[17]
  • In September 2010, days before he was to be executed, Kevin Keith was granted clemency by Ohio Governor Ted Strickland,[18] thanks in part to the Ohio Innocence Project.[19][20]
  • In February 2010, Greg Taylor was exonerated for the murder of a North Carolina prostitute after serving 17 years in prison. Taylor had been convicted without physical evidence, and the SBI failed to report all of their testing results during Taylor's original trial. Taylor described his experience as "the perfect storm of bad luck."[13]
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Innocence_Project

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