Skip to main content
University of Wisconsin–Madison

Record-Breaking Number of Exonerations in 2015

The Equal Justice Initiative published an article yesterday that examined the record-breaking number of exonerations in the United States in 2015.

The article reports that 149 people were exonerated in 2015 after being wrongfully incarcerated, and according to the National Registry of Exonerations, the number of exonerations in America have doubled since 2011. According to the report, “we now average nearly three exonerations a week,” and “most [now] get little attention” because they happen so frequently.

The article and report also cite a number of ways in which 2015’s exoneration rate is record-breaking. Of the 58 people exonerated for homicide in 2015, more than two-thirds were minorities, and half were African-American.  The National Registry of Exonerations also cited official misconduct in 65 of the exonerations in 2015, and three-quarters of the 58 homicide exonerations involved known official misconduct.

There were also 27 exonerations for cases based on false confessions and 65 exonerations for guilty-plea cases. According to EJI’s article, “more than 80 percent of the false confessions were in homicide cases, mostly by defendants who were under 18 or mentally handicapped or both, the [National] [R]egistry [of Exonerations] reports.”

You can read the full article by the Equal Justice Initiative here.

You can read the National Registry of Exonerations report for 2015 here.