If we go from 1976, the year the death penalty was reinstated by the Supreme Court, there have been 1,266 executions.
In the same time, there have been 133 inmates who were sentenced to die, who have had their conviction overturned on appeal, and were subsequently acquitted on re-trial, or had their charges dismissed by the State, or were granted an absolute pardon. . . .
Those numbers mean, in the past 35 years, 1 in 10 deathrow inmates was tried, found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury of their peers, and sentenced to die for crimes they did not commit.
Those are just the ones we know of. If the system could get it demonstrably wrong 10 percent of the time. There’s a good chance that there’s a similar number of cases where the accused wasn’t so fortunate.
[posted on 12/13/11]