Founded in 2012, the National Registry of Exonerations (NRE) is a joint effort of the (1) Newkirk Center for Science & Society at University of California Irvine, the (2) University of Michigan Law School, (3) Michigan State University College of Law; and (4) the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law.

The NRE keeps track of “every known exoneration in the United States since 1989,” and on September 1, 2020, published its report entitled, “Government Misconduct and Convicting the Innocent: The Role of Prosecutors, Police, and Other Law Enforcement.”  (Click on the image of its cover to read the 185 page report online in its entirety.)


The study’s introduction explains “[t]he exonerations in which the misconduct occurred run the gamut of crime. At one end of the spectrum, 93 innocent defendants were sentenced to death at least in part because of official misconduct.”

The NRE also found that (emphasis added):

Black exonerees were slightly more likely than whites to have been victims of misconduct (57% to 52%), but this gap is much larger among exonerations for murder (78% to 64%)especially those with death sentences (87% to 68%)—and for drug crimes (47% to 22%).

The new NRE report compliments its earlier work, published in 2017  as “Race and Wrongful Convictions in the United States.”  In that study, the NRE revealed among other things that Black people who were convicted of murder were about 50% more likely to be innocent than other convicted murderers.  Read, Gross, Samuel R., Maurice Possley, and Klara Stephens. “Race and wrongful convictions in the United States.” (2017).