The Innocence Project's 250th DNA Exoneration

| by Reason Foundation

By Radley Balko

Freddie Peacock, 60, of Rochester, New York has become the 250th person exonerated by DNA testing. Peacock was convicted of rape in 1976 and paroled in 1982. He tried to remain on parole so he'd still have access to the courts to clear his name.

The Innocence Project breaks down the 250 exonerations over the last 20 years:

-- There have been DNA exonerations in 33 states and the District of Columbia.
-- The top three states for DNA exonerations are New York (with 25), Texas (with 40) and Illinois (with 29).
-- 76% of the wrongful convictions involved eyewitness misidentification.
-- 50% involved unvalidated or improper forensic science.
-- 27% relied on a false confession, admission or guilty plea.
-- 70% of the 250 people exonerated are people of color (60% are black; nearly 9% are Latino; 29% are white).

Dallas County, Texas alone has had 19 DNA exonerations, in part because it's one of the only jurisdictions in the country with a district attorney who is actually seeking out false convictions. That's a pretty good indication that the 250 figure would be higher if there were more DAs like him.

One other point: The subset of cases for which DNA testing is dispositive of guilt is pretty small. So it also seems safe to say that whatever flaws in the criminal justice system that allowed these wrongful convictions to happen are just as prevalent in the much larger set of cases where DNA isn't a factor.