Wrongful Convictions

Raye of Hope


Samuel R. Gross’s “Convicting the Innocent” quotes:

• 2% of death sentences in America are based on false convictions

• African American men are more likely to be falsely convicted of rape than innocent white men, especially if the victim is white

• Innocent teenagers accused of murder are more likely to falsely confess than innocent adults

• In the last three decades, over 200 innocent American defendants have been exonerated and freed by DNA tests

• Over 200 others have been exonerated without the benefit of DNA evidence, including more than a hundred who had been sentenced to death

• Through 2007, there were 210 DNA exonerations; all but a handful of the defendants were convicted of crimes that included rape, although a substantial number were also convicted of other crimes against the same victims ~ for example, murder

• There were 126 death row exonerations from 1973 through 2007, 15 of which are also included among the DNA exonerations.

• Death sentences represent less than 1/10 of 1% of prison sentences but they account for about 22% of known exonerations from 1979 through 2003, a disproportion of more than 250 to 1 (Gross & O’Brien 2008)

• We know of 600 to 700 exonerations of all types, from across the country over a period of 35 years

• The truth is that once we move beyond murder and rape cases, we know very little about any aspect of false convictions. Over 95% of the individual exonerations that we know about are in murder or rape cases, which together account for about 2% of all felony convictions, and a smaller proportion of all criminal convictions (Durose & Langan 2003).


More Statistics:

• Oklahoma imprisons more women than any other state in the nation

• Only two states in our nation have turned away from the death penalty

• There were a record 112,498 women in state and federal prison in 2006 (www.sentencingproject.org)

• The number of women in prison has increased by 812% from the total of 12,331 in 1980, more than double the 380% increase for men during this period (www.sentencingproject.org).