138 People have been exonerated from death row in the United States since 1973

Jerry Banks
Georgia Conviction: 1975
Charges Dismissed: 1980

Sentenced to death for two counts of murder. Banks' conviction was overturned on the basis of newly discovered evidence which was allegedly known to the state. (Banks v. State, 218 S.E.2d 851 (Ga. 1975)). Banks committed suicide after his wife divorced him. His estate won a settlement from the county for the benefit of his children.

Since 1973, 138 people on death row have been exonerated for innocence.  Five were convicted and sentenced to death in Georgia.

This list includes individuals whose convictions were overturned and either were acquitted at re-trial or all charges were dropped, as well individuals who were given an absolute pardon by the governor based on new evidence of innocence.  Click here the full list of exonerees.

Causes of Wrongful Conviction

NOTE: Most cases involved more than one cause, so the total number of causes listed below is greater than 86

In 2001, the Center for Wrongful Conviction at Northwestern University Law School studied the causes of wrongful conviction in 86 death row cases.  They found a number of causes, including:
[Full Report (PDF)]

Innocence Resources

Witness to Innocence

Innocence Project

Equal Justice Initiative

Cameron Todd Willingham: Innocent and Executed

”How can we trust the government to determine who gets to live and die when we don’t even trust them to fix a pothole?”

--Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking

”Even if we execute an innocent person, I don’t think it calls the whole system into question.”

--Assistant Attorney General Mary Beth Westmoreland (who prosecutes death cases on behalf of the people of the state of Georgia). “The Innocence Factor,” The Macon Telegraph, 7/16/98. Eric Velasco, writer.