A wrongful conviction is perhaps the worst possible outcome in the criminal justice system—and it is made unthinkably worse when the result of a wrongful conviction is execution by the government. Even one wrongful conviction resulting in the death of an innocent person should be considered intolerable.
Unfortunately, wrongful convictions occur in death penalty cases at an alarming rate. Since 1981, 10 people in Oklahoma have been exonerated while on death row awaiting execution.
The Death Penalty Information Center maintains a database of death row exonerations in the United States. The database only includes cases where individuals were acquitted of all charges, had all their charges dismissed, or received a complete pardon based on evidence of their innocence. It provides very conservative estimates and likely understates the true number of innocent people who have been sentenced to death in America.
Death Row Exonerations Nationwide
- Since 1972, over 185 Americans have been exonerated while awaiting executions on death row.
- 68% of exonerations involved perjury or false accusations.
- 69% of exonerations involved misconduct by officials.
Death Row Exonerations in Oklahoma
- Since 1981, 10 individuals have been exonerated while on death row awaiting execution in Oklahoma.
- Six of those cases involved perjury or false accusations.
- Seven cases involved official misconduct.
- Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, has had the 4th highest number of death row exonerations among all counties in the US. Four of the five death row exonerations in Oklahoma County involved misconduct by officials.