It is no secret that our criminal justice system has its flaws. In New York alone, there are many examples of innocent individuals having to spend years behind bars after being convicted of crimes they didn’t commit, only to be exonerated and freed decades later.
In fact, according to The National Registry of Exonerations ― a project of the University of Michigan Law School, Michigan State University College of Law and the University of California Irvine Newkirk Center for Science & Society ― New York was in the Top 3 states for the number of exonerations in 2017, behind only Illinois and Texas.
Of the 136 people currently listed on The National Registry of Exonerations for 2017, 15 — or 11 percent — were wrongfully convicted in New York. Sadly, these victims spent more than 10 years, on average, behind bars before they were exonerated, with one serving 28 years.
Here is a complete list of the Top 5 states for exonerations in 2017, according to the current data reported by The National Registry of Exonerations:
- Texas: 23 exonerations
- Illinois: 21 exonerations
- New York: 15 exonerations
- Michigan: 14 exonerations
- California: 8 exonerations
Even though there are many underlying reasons why a person may be wrongfully convicted, the most common ones linked to New York’s 15 exonerations in 2017 were false statements or perjury by witnesses and official misconduct, including situations in which police and prosecutors abused their authority.