One in 25 People Sentenced to Death in U.S. Innocent.

Clayton Lockett. Photo: Oklahoma Department of Corrections

Clayton Lockett. Photo: Oklahoma Department of Corrections

Actually it’s “at least” one in 25 people sentenced to death in the United States who are innocent. Especially considering today’s scandal of the man in Oklahoma whose execution was badly botched, that’s really way too many. Common Dreams discusses the study’s findings:

At least one in 25 people sentenced to death in the United States is innocent.

So finds a damning study published Monday in leading scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The authors, hailing from Pennsylvania and Michigan, employ a statistical technique called “survival analysis” to arrive at their conclusions.

According to what researchers call a “conservative estimate,” between 1973 and 2004, at least 4.1 percent of people in the United States handed death sentences were innocent.

Yet, during this same time period, only 1.6 percent of them had been exonerated. The remaining innocent were either executed or had their sentences commuted to life in prison.

Death sentences are sometimes reversed in situations where the “accuracy of the defendants’ convictions is in doubt,” note the researchers. However, those defendants are often re-sentenced to life in prison. Once removed from death row, their cases no longer receive the same scrutiny of review, causing many of the innocent to languish in prison.

“Since 1973, nearly 8,500 defendants have been sentenced to death in the United States, and 138 of them have been exonerated,” said Professor Samuel Gross of the University of Michigan Law School, one of the authors of the study. “Our study means that more than 200 additional innocent defendants have been sentenced to death in that period. Most of these undiscovered innocent capital defendants have been re-sentenced to life in prison, and then forgotten.”

The figure of 4.1 percent, while conservative, is higher than estimates by previous researchers and casts doubt on the previous claim by conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia that criminal conviction rates have an error rate of .027 percent.

[story via Common Dreams under Creative Commons license]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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30 Comments on "One in 25 People Sentenced to Death in U.S. Innocent."

  1. BuzzCoastin | Apr 30, 2014 at 4:42 pm |

    I was explaining the high levels of incarceration in Duh Homeland
    to some Chinese friends
    they conjectured that this would be very expensive to maintain
    till I explained that in the land of the free prison is a for profit bizmess
    from which the oligarchs & their corporations obtain revenue & profit

    they have something similar in China
    but not anywhere near the size of the slavery/prison system
    found in the land of the free

    • Number1Framer | Apr 30, 2014 at 9:46 pm |

      China’s already looking enough like us. Don’t give them any ideas…

    • Population of China: 1.351 Billion
      Population of Merika: 313.9 Million

      Skim off the top 1% (generously), China still wins the slave derby.

      Were your “Chinese friends” from China? Maybe Taiwan?
      Were they imaginary props?

      • BuzzCoastin | May 1, 2014 at 1:08 am |

        Duh Homeland has more prisoners than China
        total number & per capita too
        Duh Homeland is number one in the whirled in both categories
        more cops & more armed cops than China too
        like Duh Hlmeland, China has 1 million cops
        butt 99% of Chinese cops are unarmed most of the time

        • Oh, you mean they have less prisoners ostensibly called such.

          You worked in a Chinese factory lately, Buzz? You having fun using the Global South as the punchline to “your” joke?

          • BuzzCoastin | May 1, 2014 at 1:44 am |

            I livedin China for 4 years
            ever been there?
            proly not

          • Nope.
            I am a prisoner.
            Not officially labeled as such.

          • BuzzCoastin | May 1, 2014 at 1:50 am |

            it’s surprisingly different from the propaganda

            most aMerkins don’t get out much
            it helps keep the herd a herd

          • Yes, shockingly different. If they can’t induce self-censorship, there’s always the great firewall.

            Fuck off Buzz. The grad school I went to was something like 70% Chinese nationals. Met some cool individuals, but most were like clueless white people from the 50’s with a stronger collectivist identity. The only people that wear Nouveau Riche worse are the members of der party on the Indian subcontinent. Or White People™, always, all times.

          • BuzzCoastin | May 1, 2014 at 2:04 am |

            you nailed it
            that’s them, but that’s not the propoganda image

            oh an fuku too
            my wife was there when the tanks rolled in
            your insights come from watching Chinese elites
            immitate you

          • …a fleeting celestial event in the heavens
            missed due to a cloudy lens
            is a tragic thing indeed…

          • BuzzCoastin | May 1, 2014 at 2:11 am |

            grad school musta really paid off forya
            polysci or le?

          • lol
            nice try™

            more like they learned their imitation from you
            and other sellouts
            helping to offshore what dignity is left

            ☺☻how’s it feel to be a race traitor, beholden to the highest bidder$$$???☻☹


          • BuzzCoastin | May 1, 2014 at 2:24 am |

            I haven’t had a job in decades
            I was wandering around se asia for a few years
            bumped into a Chinese chick in Burma
            dropped into see her on my way to Hawaii
            ened up staying
            job! that’s for grads of grad school

          • BuzzCoastin | May 1, 2014 at 2:38 am |

            snicker from your cube all you want
            I certainly do

          • Non-Euclidean, bub
            in more ways than one


          • BuzzCoastin | May 1, 2014 at 2:51 am |

            a cube by any other name
            is still a cube

          • …says the cube™ trapped in cube-land™…

            …let’s all laugh at the things trapped in flatland™, children…

          • Rhoid Rager | May 1, 2014 at 3:47 am |

            Allow me to butt in. poli sci for me in grad skool and it was a ridiculous ploy to put me in debt. Which i did get into but absconded to Japan. Fukushima is giving me second thoughts, but I’ll hold on for a while. Grad skool taught me to question everything, including grad skool, and when i did, i realized it wasn’t worth it. so i did all my exams and coursework and threw my hands up in disgust when i realized that all of my thoughts would only be read by pompous assholes who would only accept them if it was in their interest to, but it wasn’t. so i left, and fucking hastily. now all those ideas are going into a book (a trilogy really) for popular consumption. i still wonder if i’ll be able to finish it before publishing it becomes an impossibility.
            anyways, you’re both right. countries suck. elites suck. people go to prison because society can’t forgive or forget, but only because society has been trained that ‘justice’ is only achieved by locking people in a cage.

          • what I didn’t do in grad skool
            is probably more important
            than what I did

            …somehow I made it through the gauntlet and got the piece of paper (very nicely printed & framed, I might add///NOW I see where my tuition $$$ went)
            but I was foiled in my quest to cash in early
            on being immediately qualified to teach stuff at idiotz

          • BuzzCoastin | May 1, 2014 at 1:30 pm |

            !there doesn’t seem to be a place to get away from it all anymore
            but being in another kuntery other than “your own” is good start
            developing kunteries offer the most opportunity for escape

          • Which propaganda are you referring to?
            I’m very interested in China, especially their food systems, domestic and for export, as well as China’s treatment of the rank and file. I was appalled when they relocated people for the dam and I’m appalled now at their movement of 250
            million people off the land that has sustained them for generations into urban areas. Of course, the worst thing they do in my book, is their harvesting of organs for sale from the Falun Gong in their prisons.

          • BuzzCoastin | May 1, 2014 at 12:56 pm |

            China today is the US in the 50s
            they are unabashedly pursuing the aMerkin Dream
            the love Maigoa
            Duh Homeland projects its shadow onto China
            China is painted as
            militarily agressive, politically repressive, totalitarian
            when in fact
            it’s kind like aMerka in the 50z
            both good & bad

  2. The Great Thing™ about human sacrifice is that matters of guilt or innocence no longer apply!

    In Merika, they call it Freedom™ and Justice™… and few are any the wiser…

    • Rhoid Rager | May 1, 2014 at 3:48 am |

      with all the TMs I see you posting, you pro’lly owe a bunch. hope grad skool didn’t put you in too much debt! ha!

      • Oddly, the alternative to the education debt would have been considerably worse in the long run. Though not all of me agrees with that statement 100% of the time.

        On the plus side, I finally knew what I was doing by the time I got to grad school. I have a couple of lotto tickets in my back pocket thanks to the experience. I am a sucker for the long odds™, though I guess that was the point of this incarnation, or something…

  3. Rhoid Rager | May 1, 2014 at 3:38 am |

    1 in 25? That’s it?

  4. I don’t know about that–maybe with the Reich-wing crowd but most of us still have fully operational mirror genes. Thus, the present horror at the way we are botching executing people in this country. Considering some of the rhetoric coming out of the Bundy ranch the past few days, I’d say we know who would love that particular “spectator sport.” To ignore that implied violence is to invite another Oklahoma City “for the cause.”

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