NGO report

Innocence and the Crisis in the American Death Penalty

By Death Penalty Information Center / Richard C. Dieter, on 1 January 2004

This report catalogs the emergence of innocence as the most important issue in the long-simmering death penalty debate. The sheer number of cases and the pervasive awareness of this trend in the public’s consciousness have changed the way capital punishment is perceived around the country. The steady evolution of this issue since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976 has been accelerated in recent years by the development of DNA technology, the new gold standard of forensic investigation. This science, along with a vigorous re-investigation of many cases, has led to the discovery of a growing number of tragic mistakes and freed inmates. The evidence in this report presents a compelling case for many Americans that the risks associated with capital punishment exceed acceptable bounds. One hundred and sixteen people have been freed from death row after being cleared of their charges, including 16 people in the past 20 months. These inmates cumulatively spent over 1,000 years awaiting their freedom. The pace of exonerations has sharply increased, raising doubts about the reliability of the whole system.

  • Document type NGO report
  • Themes list Innocence,