The exoneration of a Florida man contributed to a record-high number of exonerations nationwide in 2013, with a total of 87 prisoners being released. An exoneration occurs when new evidence comes to light to prove that the person who was convicted for the crime did not commit it. Often an exoneration will take place via DNA evidence but it can happen in all different types of cases. This past year, one-fifth of exonerations were attributed to DNA evidence.
In the Florida case DNA evidence was used to prove the man’s innocence and show that he was not responsible for a crime that he had already served nine and a half years in prison for. He was freed thanks to the efforts of an organization known as the Innocence Project which specializes in helping prisoners who were wrongly convicted set the record straight.
This case and the 86 others this year around the country show those who are wrongly accused of crimes that they should not give up when they know they are truly innocent. Sometimes the pressure from law enforcement and others who presume guilt can be overwhelming and can make it seem impossible to set the record straight. However, everyone is entitled to a fair trial and access to the criminal justice system and no one should be deprived of liberty unjustly.
In 2013, nearly 40 percent of exonerations were either initiated by law enforcement officials or involved cooperation by prosecutors and police interested in seeing justice properly served.
Source: WUFT, “Record Exonerations Reported In 2013; Only One In Florida,” Christine Casey, Feb. 4, 2014.