Correcting and Preventing Wrongful Convictions in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.


Since 1973, 133 people in 26 states have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence.

251 people have now been exonerated by post-conviction DNA testing.

A 2005 study of all exonerations – DNA and non-DNA, death row and non-death row – has found that there have been more than 350 people wrongfully convicted and subsequently exonerated in the US since 1989. Click here to read the report.

The first DNA exoneration took place in 1989. Exonerations have been won in 34 states; since 2000, there have been 185 exonerations.

17 DNA exonerees were at one time sentenced to death or served time on death row.

The average length of time served by those exonerated by DNA testing is 13 years.

The true suspects and/or perpetrators have been identified in more than a third of the DNA exoneration cases.

Since 1989, there have been tens of thousands of cases where prime suspects were arrested or indicted – until DNA testing (prior to trial) proved that they were wrongly accused.

In more than 25% of cases in a National Institute of Justice study, suspects were excluded once DNA testing was conducted during the criminal investigation (the study, conducted in 1995, included 10,060 cases where testing was performed by FBI labs).

Police misconduct was a factor in half of all convictions eventually exonerated using DNA evidence. 

27 states, the federal government and the District of Columbia have passed laws to compensate people who have been exonerated. Awards under these statutes vary greatly.

Of the 251 exonerees there are:

  • 151 African Americans
  • 72 Caucasians
  • 21 Latinos
  • 2 Asian American
  • 5 exonerees whose race is unknown