Record Number of Criminals Exonerated

A record high number of exonerations occurred last year in the United States, in part because of prosecutors willing to admit mistakes, according to a report released Tuesday.

In 2014, The National Registry of Exonerations recorded 125 exonerations. The previous highest total was 91 in 2012 and again in 2013, followed by 87 in 2001.

See the report here.

Local law professor Justin Brooks is the director of The California Innocence Project, which is located in Downtown San Diego.

His project has exonerated 17 people since it started 15 years ago. NBC 7 asked for this thoughts on the report.

“People are seeing innocent people in prison. They’re seeing the public react positively with prosecutors and police going back on their own cases and fixing mistakes,” Professor Brooks said.

The California Innocence Project has been a part of a number high-profile exoneration cases, some of them recent. Michael Hanline’s murder conviction was reversed last November. He had spent 36 years behind bars for the crime. Then there’s NFL hopeful Brian Banks who lost five years of his life after a woman accused him of rape and kidnap.

Brooks hopes these new numbers and each exoneration will be viewed as opportunities to improve procedures/policies for the future. He adds the local District Attorney’s Office works very well with the Innocence Project, however that’s not the case in different parts of the state and country.

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