National Institute on Aging

Study Finds Blacks Far More Likely to Be Wrongfully Convicted of Crimes

According to a new study by the National Registry of Exonerations, African Americans are far more likely that Whites to be wrongfully convicted of crimes.

The National Registry of Exonerations examined the cases of 1,900 defendants who were convicted of crimes between 1989 and 2016 and later exonerated. They found that 47 percent of these exonerated defendants were African Americans. Most notably, African Americans were seven times more likely to be wrongfully convicted of murder than White Americans and 12 times more likely to be wrongfully convicted of drug-related offenses.

The National Registry of Exonerations, founded in 2012, is a joint project of the Newkirk Center for Science & Society at the University of California, Irvine, the University of Michigan Law School, and the College of Law at Michigan State University. The project is only an information clearinghouse. It does not investigate or adjudicate cases.

The group’s mission statement says “our primary goal is to reform the criminal justice system and reduce if not eliminate these tragic errors in the future. We also aim to make police officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges more sensitive to the problem of wrongful convictions and more willing to reconsider the guilt of defendants who have already been convicted when new evidence of innocence comes to light.”


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