The Innocence Project is a non-profit legal clinic that has helped to free dozens of convicts by using DNA testing to show they did not commit the crimes. Some of them spent decades in prison first.
Here’s just one example.
After serving more than 25 years in Texas prisons for a crime he did not commit, Johnnie Lindsey was proven innocent through DNA testing and freed in September 2008. He was 30 years old when he was arrested and 56 when he was freed.
Lindsey was the 19th man exonerated by DNA testing in Dallas County since 2001.
The Innocence Project has a backlog of thousands of cases and only takes cases where DNA testing may be able to prove innocence.
The common themes that run through these cases — from global problems like poverty and racial issues to criminal justice issues like eyewitness misidentification, invalid or improper forensic science, overzealous police and prosecutors and inept defense counsel — cannot be ignored and continue to plague our criminal justice system.
- Seventeen people had been sentenced to death before DNA proved their innocence and led to their release.
- The average sentence served by DNA exonerees has been 12 years.
- About 70 percent of those exonerated by DNA testing are members of minority groups.
- In almost 40 percent of the cases profiled here, the actual perpetrator has been identified by DNA testing.