Since 1973, 156 people have been released from death row after evidence of their innocence was uncovered. A shocking rate of error has emerged: for every nine people executed in this country, one innocent person has been exonerated.
Wrongful convictions have been found to result from erroneous eyewitness identifications, false and coerced confessions, misconduct by police and prosecutors, inadequate legal defense, false or misleading forensic evidence, and perjury by witnesses who are promised lenient treatment or other incentives in exchange for their testimony.
Nine people have been exonerated in Alabama. Walter McMillian, Randall Padgett, Gary Drinkard, Louis Griffin, Wesley Quick, James Cochran, Charles Bufford, Anthony Ray Hinton, and Daniel Moore were found not guilty of the crimes that originally put them on Alabama's death row.
Alabama's attempt to execute Vernon Madison, an elderly man suffering from dementia, renewed questions about its use of the death penalty.
"[S}ystemic problems continue to lead to the conviction of the innocent, as well as those individuals for whom the death penalty would be constitutionally inappropriate...."
Mrs. Mamie Lang Kirkland, a 107-year-old survivor of racial terrorism in Mississippi, and Anthony Ray Hinton, who survived 30 years on Alabama's death row for crimes he did not commit, received our 2016 Champion of Justice Award.