With the new focus on wrongful convictions from true crime shows and podcasts in the media, South Carolina residents may be surprised to find that wrongful convictions are more common than most believe. According to the Huffington Post, 149 people were cleared for crimes they did not commit in 2015. This was the same year that the Netflix series “Making a Murderer” gained popularity and forced many Americans to face the reality that there may be more people imprisoned for crimes they did not commit than they previously thought.
The Innocence Project gives several contributing causes to wrongful convictions. According to their research, there may be more than one cause for a wrongful conviction, but their numbers are based on the first exonerations attributed to new DNA evidence, including the following:
- 235 convictions were affected by eyewitness misidentification
- 154 convictions were affected by improper or unvalidated forensics
- 88 cases were affected by false admissions or confessions
- 48 cases were affected by snitches or informants providing false information
New technology has allowed for many old cases to be re-visited using DNA evidence. Those who have been accused of committing a crime are subject to the whims and faults of the criminal justice system, and many cases still do not have DNA evidence to help exonerate someone who may be wrongfully accused or convicted.
Often, exonerated individuals are cleared because they had intellectual disabilities. Of the individuals released in 2015, the average years served in prison were 14.5 and some of these people had been on death row even when they were eventually proven innocent. While these people eventually obtained their freedom, it is believed that there may be many more who are imprisoned for crimes they did not commit with no way for researchers to determine an exact number.