LAW REVIEWS: Convicting the Innocent

A new article in the Annual Review of Law and Social Science entitled “Convicting the Innocent” by Prof. Samuel Gross of the Universiry of Michigan Law School explores the rate of false convictions among death-sentenced inmates and examines the demographical and procedural predictors of such errors.  Prof. Gross noted that earlier research showed the exoneration rate to be 2.3% for inmates who had been on death row at least 15 years and a similar rate for those who had been on death row for at least 20 years.  He further noted, “This figure–2.3%--is the actual proportion of exonerations for death sentences imposed in the United States between 1973 and 1989.”  He concludes that this error rate is probably a low estimate of the true rate of mistaken convictions: “The proportion of capital exonerations is almost certainly an underestimate of the true rate of false capital convictions.” 

(Samuel R. Gross, “Convicting the Innocent,” 4 Annual Review of Law and Social Science 173 (2008).  See Innocence and Law Reviews.