STUDIES: Innocence Network Exonerations 2009

Twenty-seven people were exonerated and released from prison this year, including some who had been on death row, according to a new report from The Innocence Project, a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people. The 27 exonerees served a combined 421 years in prison for crimes they did not commit. The exonerations occurred through the work of the Innocence Project Network, which consists of 54 organizations, including 45 in the U.S. The Innocence Project concentrates on wrongful convictions and uses DNA testing, while also promoting reform of the criminal justice system. (Click on the thumbnail to access full text of the report.) The most recent person exonerated was James Bain, who was imprisoned for 35 years before DNA testing revealed that someone else had committed the crime that led to his conviction.

According to the Innocence Project, Bain was released from prison on December 17 in Florida and became a free man for the first time since 1974. He was the 248th person exonerated through DNA evidence in the United States. Bain was 19 years old when he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. He sought DNA testing several times on appeal, but was denied in 2001, 2003 and 2006. The Innocence Project of Florida took on his case and obtained DNA testing on evidence from the crime scene. The results confirmed that Bain was not the perpetrator of the crime. “I guess I kind of feel like when they first landed on the moon,” he told reporters after his release. “We have touchdown,” he said, laughing.

(“Innocence Network Exonerations 2009,” The Innocence Project, December 2009). See also Innocence and Studies.