More than 2.3 million Americans are currently incarcerated within the U.S. prison system. The reality of their everyday life is isolation; days, months, and years spent in what amounts to a small cage. There is almost no variety in food, activity, or social interaction. Visits with family members are restricted to certain days and times. Everything they do is under surveillance and supervised. It’s not an easy life by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s even more difficult for the innocent few that have ended up there because of a wrongful conviction.
The American justice system is considered to be one of the best in the world, but that doesn’t mean it is completely free of problems or errors. Sometimes the justice system does fail. In 2016, a record number of people in the U.S. were exonerated of crimes they didn’t commit, 180 in all. In 2019, 136 wrongly convicted people were exonerated.
This, of course, leads to an inevitable question. How many people are currently serving time in jail for crimes they didn’t commit?
Can The Number Of Innocent Inmates Be Accurately Estimated?
Coming up with an exact number of wrongly convicted people is virtually impossible. It would be necessary to review records from the court and prison systems at the federal, state, and county levels. Then, even with all of the information, we could actually gather, there are still many cases of convictions that never went through a trial. These cases leave almost no traceable records. Estimates show that about 95% of all convictions in the U.S. are the result of a plea bargain deal and not a trial.
The only data that we can quantify with any certainty are the numbers we get from exonerations and death penalty records. As of January 2020, there have been 2547 exonerations nationwide since 1989—which is when record-keeping began. It’s also estimated that somewhere close to 4% of defendants sentenced to the death penalty are later proven to be innocent of their crimes.
A study was conducted in Ohio where a total of 798 police, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges were asked to give their own estimate of how many of the convictions across the United States have been imposed upon innocent people. 75% of the respondents answered with a number greater than zero but not more than 5%.
If we put those estimates up against known numbers, we come to some startling conclusions. If there are 2.3 million people in prison and just .5% of them (half of one percent) are innocent, that’s 11,500 people serving time in jail for something they didn’t do. If there are about 195,000 new convictions across the country every year, that would mean 975 innocent people are being locked up every year; an average of more than two people every day.
Looking at it another way, if 975 innocent people are convicted, but only 136 people were exonerated in 2019, that means 839 more people are still wrongfully behind bars. That would indicate that about 85% of those who are wrongfully convicted are never able to prove their innocence.
Restitution For Wrongful Conviction In Kentucky
Unfortunately, Kentucky is still one of a minority of states within the country that does not have a statute in place to provide restitution for people who have been wrongfully imprisoned for a crime. Someone who has spent time in jail for a crime they didn’t commit has no choice but to sue the state in order to receive any kind of monetary compensation for the time they’ve been robbed of.
Speak With A Qualified Kentucky Lawyer For Help
If you have questions about wrongful convictions, the exoneration process, or if you know someone who has been convicted of a crime they didn’t commit, it’s crucial that you speak with a competent Kentucky attorney as soon as possible.
At Baldani Law Group, we have the knowledge and experience that brings results. Our team has more than 100 years of combined experience and we’re ready to put all of it to work for you. Consultations are always free and confidential. Contact us online anytime, or call (859) 259-0727 to schedule an appointment.