ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Prisoners Exonerated - Innocence Project

Updated on January 7, 2021
Pamela99 profile image

I'm interested in social issues, relationships, problems of daily living, jobs, exercise, poems and fiction, plus safer living conditions.

The Innocence Project

The Innocence Project is a “national litigation and public policy organization” that was formed to free wrongly accused prisoners through DNA testing. These attorneys and many more around the country have freed 300 prisoners over the last few years using DNA evidence. As of July, 2017, there were 351 post-conviction exonerations due to DNA testing.

The Innocence Project founded by Barry C. Scheck and Peter J. Neufeld at the N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University in 1992. The goal of this organization is to actually reform the criminal system through DNA testing.

They typically receive approximately 3000 requests from prisoners annually. They evaluate anywhere from 6000 to 8000 cases at any given time.

They are not alone in working to free prisoners that are not guilty, as there are many law firms across the country doing the same type of work. This includes law students at the University of Chicago Law School’s Exoneration Project.

DNA Tests Proved Innocence

Damon Thibodeaux of Louisiana was released from prison after sixteen years after he was found innocent based on DNA testing. He had confessed to raping and murdering his step-cousin after nine hours of interrogation that was not taped.

In 2007, his attorneys persuaded Pat Connick, the District Attorney of Jefferson Parrish to reopen the investigation with the attorneys sharing the expenses. As it turned out the young woman had not been raped, and the DNA evidence proved that Damon Thibodeaux was innocent. The Innocent Project is pushing police departments to tape all interrogations of suspects and witnesses.

In Chicago, Andre Davis, spent more than 30 years in prison before DNA evidence proved he did not rape and murder a 3 year old girl. He was represented by Judy Royal, of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University.

How the Innocence Project Decides to Take a Case

Statistics of 300 Exonerated Prisoners

The Innocent Project publishes the number of people released, their names and their race.

The exonerees released at this time consist of the following:

  • 187 African Americans
  • 85 Caucasians
  • 21 Latinos
  • 2 Asian Americans
  • 5 whose race is unknown

Of the 300 that have been released from prison, 146 of these cases have caught the true perpetrators of these crimes. It is surely a miscarriage of justice for a man to be in prison for 30 years for a crime he did not commit.

The police have a difficult job and much of what they rely on is eyewitness testimony, along with any physical evidence collected. When a prisoner confesses, even under pressure, the chances of a prison sentence are highly elevated.

Evidence Besides DNA at a Crime Scene

There are many reasons that innocent people are convicted and sent to prison. The primary reason is misleading eye witness testimony. Of the cases that have been overturned, this has been a factor for 72 percent of them.

Plus, 40 percent of those cases involved cross racial identification. Studies have concluded that people of a different race are much less accurate in accurately identifying another individual.

Another reason that people are wrongfully convicted is flawed forensic science. In approximately 50 percent of the cases there were inaccuracies in hair microscopy, shoe prints, firearm tool markings and even in bite mark comparison.


Other Problems with Regards to Trials

Another 27 percent of the cases, there were false confessions and incriminating statements which the defendants stated during interrogations. It is hard to understand why someone would ever confess to some crime they did not commit, but it happens with some frequency.

It may be due to mental retardation or illness. This is why the attorneys from the Innocent Project are pushing so hard for all interrogations to be filmed or taped. That way there is an accurate record that can be played in court for the judge and jury.

The other contributing factor is false informants or the “snitch system. This was found to be true in 18 percent of the 300 cases. Informants are often promised some special treatment to testify, which gives them some motive to lie.

Texas Leads Country in Overturned Convictions

The state that leads the nation in overturning wrongful convictions is Texas. In addition, they also have new laws concerning compensation. A wrongfully accused individual receives $80,000 per year for each year they were incarcerated unjustly.

Plus, they receive an annuity of $40,000 to $50,000 annually, and this is the most generous reimbursement in the nation. They also provide job training. Many other states also have some type of reimbursement program and other benefits.

Two-Minute Science Lesson: How Forensic DNA Testing Works

Capital Punishment Facts Summary

Capital punishment is typically used for aggravated murder, drug trafficking crimes, felony murder and contract killing. Some states have the death penalty for other crimes than murder, which include treason, hijacking an aircraft, and aggravated kidnapping.

Lethal injection is the primary method used for death penalty cases, but history shows that many other methods have been utilized through the years, including electrocution, the gas chamber, hanging and the firing squad.

The death penalty is illegal in 17 states and in the District of Columbia. Clemency laws also vary greatly from one state to another, with a panel most often being appointed by the governor in most cases. The death penalty is being debated in the legislature of several stats, and it is on the ballot in California in this next election.

Death Penalty

Do you believe in the death penalty?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)