A miscarriage of justice consists of the conviction and punishment of a person for a crime they did not commit.  The new National Registry of Exonerations, jointly assembled by the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law, is the most complete and detailed list of exonerations ever complied.  The report begins in January, 1989 and details 873 wrongful convictions that occurred up until February, 2012.  Although the Registry details 873 known exonerations, there have more than 2,000 total in the United States since 1989.

Out of the 873 exonerated individuals:

  • 93% were men and 7% were women
  • 8% pled guilty and the rest were convicted at trial – 87% by jury and 8% by judges.
  • 37% were cleared at least in part with the help of DNA evidence
  • 63% were cleared without DNA evidence
  • Almost all had been in prison for years; half for at least 10 years; more than 75% for at least 5 years
  • As a group, the defendants spent more than 10,000 years in prison, averaging more than 11 years each.

The Registry accounted for the race of the defendants in 92% of the cases (802/873).

  • 50% were African American
  • 38% were white
  • 11% were Hispanic
  • 2% were Native American or Asian


Exonerations by Category of Crime:


1989-2012 REPORT

Murder (including manslaughter)

                 48% (416) (over 100 have included death sentences)

Rape (and other sexual assaults)

Adult Victims:

Minor Victims:

35% (305)



Other Crimes of Violence

11% (94)

Drug and Property Crimes

7% (58)


100% (873)


In half of the 873 exonerations, the most common factor leading to false convictions was perjured testimony or false accusations.  43% of the cases involved mistaken eyewitness identification, and 24% involved false or misleading forensic evidence.
The Top 10 states with the most exonerations include:

  1. Illinois:  101
  2. New York:  88
  3. Texas:  84
  4. California:  79
  5. Michigan:  35
  6. Louisiana:  34
  7. Florida:  32
  8. Ohio:  28
  9. Massachusetts:  27
  10. Pennsylvania:  27


Wrongful convictions unfortunately occur all too often.  Don’t be a victim of injustice.  We can provide you with the protection you deserve.  We can be reached by filling out the contact form on this page, or at 617-973-9950 for a free consultation.