Exonerations in Texas at record high

Feb 12, 2014

Watchtower at Huntsville Prison.
Watchtower at Huntsville Prison.
Credit Caleb Bryant Miller / KUT News

Texas exonerated more people than any other state last year.

13 Texans who were wrongly convicted of crimes were officially absolved of wrongdoing in 2013, for crimes ranging from murder to drug possession. They spent a matter of months to more than a decade in prison, the Texas Tribune reports.

This record number of exonerations is due in part to a nationwide effort by prosecutors to re-examine possible wrongful convictions, according to a report released last week by the National Registry of Exonerations.

Advocates say the statistics on exonerations bring attention to the importance of a high-quality defense in criminal trials. The report says an "inadequate legal defense" is partially to blame for wrongful convictions in a portion of this year's exonerations.

Others say wrongful convictions could be reduced with tougher penalties for prosecutors who behave unethically to produce convictions.

This registry, coordinated by the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at the Northwestern University School of Law, began in 2012 to track every known exoneration in the nation since 1989.