Why do false convictions occur? Victims identify the wrong person; prosecutors withhold exculpatory evidence from the accused; false or misleading forensic evidence points to the wrong person; defendants receive inadequate legal representation; witnesses perjure themselves.
Last May, the National Registry of Exonerations, a joint project of the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law, released its first report analyzing 873 exonerations between January 1989 and February 2012. The number of identified exonerations in the registry has grown to 1,050 since the report was issued.
In the 873 cases that were studied, the registry found the most common reasons for wrongful conviction were perjuryor false accusation (51 percent), mistaken witness identification (43 percent) and official misconduct (42 percent).
Ninety-three percent of those exonerated were men, 50 percent were black, 38 percent were white and 11 percent were Hispanic. DNA evidence helped clear 37 percent of them.
To read more: http://www.chron.com/exonerees/essay/