The Innocence Network, an affiliation of 54 innocence projects nationally and internationally, released its annual report this week detailing all of the known exonerations from 2009. The 27 individuals came from 12 states and served a total of 421 years in prison, although each was in fact innocent. Of the 27 exonerations, 13 were based upon newly tested DNA evidence (including James Bain from Florida, who served 35 years in prison for a crime committed by another), and 3 of the people had been sentenced to death. What is remarkable is the number of exonerations which did not rely upon DNA evidence: 14 of the cases were based upon newly discovered evidence such as witness recantations. In all of the cases, indictments were dismissed after convictions were overturned, leading to official exonerations.
The Pennsylvania Innocence Project is proud to be a part of the Innocence Network. In addition to helping overturn wrongful convictions, Innocence Network organizations increasingly work to bring substantive reform to the criminal justice system. They advocate for improvements in eyewitness identification, forensic science, custodial interrogations, evidence preservation, compensation for the exonerated, and other aspects of the justice system.