A law enforcement office in Texas helped contribute to the record number of exonerations in 2015. Around 28 percent of the 149 people who were exonerated last year were freed due to the work of one Conviction Integrity Unit in Harris County. The exonerated people had been serving time for drug offenses, murders and other serious crimes that they did not commit.
A project at the University of Michigan known as the National Registry of Exonerations released the 2015 report on Feb. 3. According to the report, the people who were exonerated had already spent an average of 15 years behind bars before their names were cleared. Fifty-four of the people had been falsely convicted of murder, and five people were sitting on death row. A group of 27 of the exonerated convicts, mostly those who were underage or mentally handicapped, had previously provided false confessions.
One of the exonerations in 2015 involved a man who had already spent 31 years in prison for a 1981 arson that killed a woman and her five children. While in prison, the man had gone blind due to glaucoma that he didn’t receive any treatment for. Although the accused man had an alibi witness at his trial, the building owner had testified against him. Shortly before her death, the building owner admitted that her story was false.
A lawyer may be able to help someone who has been convicted of a serious crime to appeal their case. If legal mistakes were made in the criminal case when the accused person was convicted, a lawyer might be able to help the person to prove that the conviction was made in error.