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2016 Innocents Database Exoneration Report


The 2016 Innocents Database Exoneration Report is now available online! The Report is a PDF document. Click here to read the 2016 Innocents Database Exoneration Report online, or download it.


The following is from the Report’s Introduction:


This is the first yearly report of information recorded in the Innocents Database through the last calendar year – 2016. The Innocents Database is an ongoing independent non-profit project begun in 1997 that records every documentable exoneration in the United States and every other country. The Innocents Database is online at www.justicedenied.org/exonerations.htm and it can be accessed from Justice Denied’s website at www.justicedenied.org. This Report is compiled from information available in the database online.


The database includes 8,131 cases concluded through December 31, 2016: 5,224 U.S. cases and 2,907 international cases.

Since the Innocents Database was founded there has been a continuing increase in the reporting of cases in accessible digital form. That has resulted in more cases being included for recent years. However, that doesn’t mean more people are exonerated today than ten, twenty, or even forty years ago. It does means it is easier to find a larger number of recent exoneration cases. For example, Table 1 lists 484 U.S. cases and 462 international cases for 2016, and 84 U.S. cases and 97 international cases for 2005. There may have been a comparable number of exonerations in 2005 as 2016 – but finding and identifying contemporary cases is less challenging than 2005 cases, much less cases in 1995 or 1975.

Nevertheless, the 5,224 U.S. cases listed in the database through 2016 – 4,313 cases from 1989 to 2016 and 911 cases prior to 1989 – provide data that can be useful to make general observations and identify possible trends. 1989 is used as a quasi demarcation because the first DNA exoneration in the U.S. was in 1989. Internationally the first exoneration was in Canada in 1992.

The Report includes 24 tables of data. Most of the 24 tables include information about U.S. cases for both the years 1989 to 2016, and pre-1989, and several include information about international cases. Those tables are:

Table 1. Known Exonerations By Year (U.S. & Int.)

Table 2. Number of Exonerated People By State

Table 3. Number of Exonerated People By Jurisdiction  (U.S.)

Table 4. Number of Exonerated People By Sex/Type  (U.S.)

Table 5. Number of Exonerated People By Type of Crime  (U.S.)

Table 6. Number of Exonerated People by Race/Ethnicity  (U.S.)

Table 7. Number of Exonerated People By Primary Types of Exculpatory Evidence  (U.S.)

Table 8. Number of Exonerated People By Conviction Method  (U.S.)

Table 9. Number of Exonerated People Convicted After More Than One Trial  (U.S.)

Table 10. Number of State Prisoners Exonerated After Federal Habeas Granted  (U.S.)

Table 11. Number of Exonerated People Convicted By Primary Types of Prosecution Evidence  (U.S.)

Table 12. Number of Exonerated People By Method of Exoneration (U.S.)

Table 13. Number of Exonerated Persons Involved In A Case With A Co-Defendant  (U.S.)

Table 14. Number of Exonerations Involving DNA Evidence By Year (U.S. & Int.)

Table 15. Number of Exonerated People Aided By Conviction Integrity Unit  (U.S.)

Table 16. Number of Exonerated People By Years In Custody (U.S.)

Table 17. Average Years Exonerated Person Was In Custody Before Release (U.S. & Int.)

Table 18. Average Years Exonerated Person Was In Custody Before Release (Homicide or Sexual Assault only) (U.S. & Int.)

Table 19. Average Years Exonerated Person Was In Custody Before Release (Non-Homicide or Sexual Assault only) (U.S. & Int.)

Table 20. Number of Exonerated People By County (12 or more) (U.S.)

Table 21. Number of Exonerated People By Country – International Cases

Table 22. Number of Exonerated People By Type of Crime  (International)

Table 23. Number of Exonerated People By Method of Exoneration (International)

Table 24. Number of Exonerated Persons Involved In A Case With A Co-Defendant  (International)


Click here to read the 2016 Innocents Database Exoneration Report online, or to download it.