the first one seems to not be working anymore,
here's an updated one
By Adam Liptak
Almost all the exonerations were in murder and rape cases, and that implies, according to the study, that many innocent people have been convicted of less serious crimes. But the study says they benefited neither from the intense scrutiny that murder cases tend to receive nor from the DNA evidence that can categorically establish the innocence of people convicted of rape.
Prosecutors, however, have questioned some of the methodology used in the study, which was prepared at the University of Michigan and supervised by a law professor there, Samuel R. Gross. They say the number of exonerations is quite small when compared with the number of convictions during the 15-year period. About 2 million people are in American prisons and jails.
Interracial rapes are, moreover, uncommon. Rapes of white women by black men, for instance, represent less than 10 percent of rapes, according to the Justice Department. But in half of the rape exonerations where racial data was available, black men were falsely convicted of raping white women.
A separate study considering 125 cases involving false confessions was published in the North Carolina Law Review last month and found that such confessions were most common among groups vulnerable to suggestion and intimidation.
"There are three groups of people most likely to confess," said Steven A. Drizin, a law professor at Northwestern, who conducted the study with Richard A. Leo, a professor of criminology at the University of California, Irvine. "They are the mentally retarded, the mentally ill and juveniles."
Professor Drizin, too, said false confessions were most common in murder cases.
The authors of the Michigan study offered dueling rationales for the murder exonerations, and both reasons, they said, were disturbing.
In Astoria, Ore., Joshua Marquis, the district attorney for Clatsop County, said many of the
people exonerated under the study's definition may nonetheless have committed the crimes in question, though the evidence may have become too weak to prove that beyond a reasonably doubt.
Barry Scheck, a founder of the Innocence Project, said Mr. Marquis's analysis ignored another point.
"Every time an innocent person is convicted," Mr. Scheck said, "it means there are more guilty people out there who are still committing crimes."