Exonerations. 158 individuals have been exonerated from death row – that is, found to be innocent and released – since 1973. In other words, for every 10 people who have been executed since the death penalty was reinstated in the U.S., one person has been set free. The most recent being Rodricus Crawford in 2017.
The exonerees provide further evidence that we have made severe mistakes in the sentencing and application of the death penalty.
To learn more about exonerated men and women, visit the Death Penalty Information Center’s Innocence Database.
Also visit The National Registry of Exonerations (a project of the University of California Irvine Newkirk Center for Science & Society, University of Michigan Law School & Michigan State University College of Law).
Wrongful executions. It is hard to deal with wrongful executions and tell how many of the 1,000+ people executed since 1976 may have been innocent. Innocence post execution is difficult in part because Courts do not generally consider claims of innocence when the defendant is dead. Defense attorneys move on to other cases where clients’ lives can still be saved. However, as found through the DPIC, some cases with strong evidence of innocence include:
- Carlos DeLuna Texas – Conviction: 1983, Executed: 1989
- Ruben Cantu Texas – Convicted: 1985, Executed: 1993
- Larry Griffin Missouri – Conviction: 1981, Executed: 1995
- Joseph O’Dell Virginia – Conviction: 1986, Executed: 1997
- David Spence Texas – Conviction: 1984, Executed: 1997
- Leo Jones Florida – Conviction: 1981, Executed: 1998
- Gary Graham Texas – Conviction: 1981, Executed: 2000
- Claude Jones Texas – Conviction: 1989, Executed: 2000
- Cameron Willingham Texas – Conviction: 1992, Executed: 2004
- Troy Davis Georgia – Conviction: 1991, Executed: 2011
- Lester Bower Texas – Conviction: 1984, Executed: 2015
- Brian Terrell Georgia Convicted 1995 Executed 2015
- Richard Masterson Texas – Conviction: 2002, Executed: 2016
- The National Registry of Exonerations, 2016 2015 set a record for exonerations in the United States—149 that we know of so far, in 29 states, the District of Columbia, federal courts and Guam. This record continues a trend: the rate of exonerations has been increasing rapidly for several years. The 149 defendants who were exonerated in 2015 had served on average about 14-and-a-half years in prison.
- DPIC Innocence
- The NCADP Innocence Page