A new study from Virginia examining DNA estimates that as many as 15 percent of people found guilty in sexual assault cases between 1973 and 1987 were wrongfully convicted, reported the Associated Press.
Researchers from the Urban Institute DNA testing project found that in 5 percent of homicide and sexual assault cases, testing on archived DNA ruled out the convicted person. The wrongful conviction rate previously had been estimated at 3 percent or less.
The study released this week is the first to say how many exonerations are likely from Virginia's stash of biological samples from some cases dating back nearly 40 years.
Although all of these tests were done on Virginia cases, a lead researcher said the results likely could be applied elsewhere, reported the Associated Press.
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