One in 25 sentenced to death in US is innocent: Study

One in 25 sentenced to death in US is innocent: Study

Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:26PM GMT

At least one in 25 prisoners under a death sentence in the United States is likely innocent, according to a new statistical study appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study, released on Monday, says that since 1977, some 1,320 defendants have been executed and several of them were almost certainly not guilty.

The lead author of the report says the great majority of the innocent people who are sentenced to death are never identified and freed.

The study “tells you that a surprising number of innocent people are sentenced to death,” said Samuel R. Gross.

“It tells you that a lot of them haven’t been exonerated. Some of them no doubt have been executed,” he added.

“I’m a little surprised it’s this high,” said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. “I did not think the number would point to more than twice as high” as the number of cases that end in exonerations.

In 2013, nearly 40 prisoners were executed in the United States and more than 3200 were on death row.

Many states, such as Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, Ohio, and Arizona, regularly execute convicted murderers.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the racial ratio of the victims of the death penalty in the US has been striking since the revival of the practice in 1976, with the penalty being disproportionately imposed on ethnic minorities.

Statistics released by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice show that 11 of the 16 executed prisoners in the state of Texas, which is responsible for nearly 40 percent of all executions in the US since 1976, were African American or Hispanic in 2013.

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