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Organization releases report on 2018 exonerations

People in Georgia who have been wrongly convicted may be among those who lost a combined 1,600 years of life to incarceration in 2018 according to a study by the National Registry of Exonerations. The 151 people released in 2018 after they had been wrongfully convicted had been in prison an average of 11 years each.

In nearly half of the exonerations in 2018, the crimes for which they were convicted did not even happen. This was the case in a number of convictions in Chicago that were thrown out after a large-scale protection racket among law enforcement was discovered in which drugs were planted on people who did not pay demanded extortions. Official misconduct was an element in more than 100 of the exonerations in 2018 and in 80% of the homicide cases. In one case, in which a man was released from death row for the rape and murder of a child, experts found that there had not been sexual assault and that the child may have died from being hit by a car.

Nineteen of the 2018 exonerations involved false confessions; one Illinois officer was responsible for at least 14 false confessions. In two other cases, the testimony that convicted two men was not reliable, and they were exonerated after more than 40 years in prison.

When a person is facing criminal charges, an attorney might look at a number of different elements of the case to determine whether there has been misconduct or other errors that could lead to getting evidence or the case dismissed. For example, law enforcement must have obtained search warrants to get certain types of evidence. Evidence could be mishandled, and witnesses or even the person charged could be coerced. There may also be irregularities in the trial that might lead to charges being dropped.

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