DNA Testing and Wrongful Convictions

This week, the Innocence Project released 250 Exonerated: Too Many Wrongfully Convicted detailing 250 exoneration cases along with statistics on common causes of the wrongful convictions. The release of the report coincided with the exoneration of Freddie Peacock, a 60 year old man from Rochester, New York wrongfully convicted of rape 33 years ago. The exoneration was the result of DNA testing in what the Innocence Project said is the 250th DNA exoneration in the United States. Convicted in 1976 of rape, Peacock was sentenced to 20 years in prison and released on parole in 1982. Even though no longer incarcerated, he fought to prove his innocence since he left prison 28 years ago.

Some interesting findings in the report include:

    • DNA exonerations in 33 states and the District of Columbia
    • States with most DNA exoneration: New York (25), Texas (40) and Illinois (29)
    • 76% of wrongful convictions involved eyewitness misidentification
    • 50% involved either improper forensic science or forensic science without validation
    • 27% relied on a false confession, admission or guilty plea
    • 70% of the 250 people exonerated are people of color; Black (60%), Latino (9%), White (29%)

The Brooklyn Law School Library has additional reading on the subject of wrongful convictions in New York. See Lessons Not Learned: New York State Leads in the Number of Wrongful Convictions but Lags in Policy Reforms that Can Prevent Them, An Innocence Project Report (Call # KFN6102 .L37 2007 (INTERNET).