Wrongful conviction is much more common than most people realize. These cases include both instances when the convicted person suffered rights violations during the trial and cases when the court finds an innocent person guilty. One estimate from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania approximates wrongful convictions at 6% of the current prison population.
Review the statistics about wrongful convictions and steps to take if this issue affects you or a family member.
Understanding the numbers
According to the National Register of Exonerations, 143 people received exonerations in the U.S. in 2019 after collectively losing more than 1,900 of their lives to prison. Three individuals received exonerations here in Louisiana.
The agency also reports these reasons for exoneration, from most common to least common:
- False accusation or perjury
- Misconduct by law enforcement
- Mistaken identification by an eyewitness
- False confession
- Misleading or false forensic evidence
NRE data indicates that homicide was by far the most common type of wrongful conviction in 2019, followed by nonviolent offenses, sexual assault and other violent crimes.
Fighting back against a wrongful conviction
Although Louisiana has one of the highest incarceration rates in the U.S., it had one of the nation’s lowest exoneration rates in 2019. With the help of a civil rights attorney, you or your loved one can appeal a wrongful conviction.
After exhausting the appeals process, you may be eligible for federal or state post-conviction relief depending on the circumstances of your case. If a new law would have affected your original sentence, you can file a motion to correct an illegal sentence for a review of the original sentence.