More Innocent People on Death Row Than Estimated: Study

TIME

The United States may be putting more innocent people to death than previously thought. According to a sweeping new statistical analysis made public today, the rate of wrongful death sentences in the U.S. is probably much higher than experts have estimated.

Authors of the study say that their “conservative estimate of the proportion of erroneous convictions” is 4.1 percent, or approximately twice the number actually exonerated and set free from death row. This could mean that approximately 120 of the roughly 3,000 inmates on death row in America might not be guilty, while additional scores of wrongfully convicted inmates are serving life in prison after their death sentences were reduced over technical legal errors.

“False convictions … are extremely difficult to detect after the fact,” law professors Samuel R. Gross of the University of Michigan and Barbara O’Brien of Michigan State write in the Proceedings of the National Academy of…

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