Once a person is convicted and sentenced for a crime in Texas, they are often forgotten by the public and locked up with the symbolic key thrown away. According to The National Registry of Exonerations, 2,496 of those people have been exonerated for crimes they did not actually commit. This amounts to over 20,000 years lost by those who were deemed guilty when they were innocent.
There are populations who are more vulnerable to wrongful convictions. There are many reasons that a person can be falsely convicted. Faulty eyewitness identification, false confessions, improper forensics, police misconduct, informants and bad lawyering can all lead to sending an innocent person to prison.
News Maven reports that although African Americans only account for 13% of the entire United States population, they make up 50% of those who have been exonerated. While white and black people use drugs at the same rates, African Americans are 12 times more likely to be wrongfully convicted and five times as likely to go to prison for using drugs. In sexual assault cases, convicted black people are three and a half times more likely to be wrongfully accused and convicted than white people.
Advances in research into DNA have contributed largely to the overturning of many convictions. Some cases that were tried on eyewitness testimony or other lackluster evidence are being overturned once DNA evidence provides proof of the actual culprit. While some of the wrongfully convicted receive compensation checks from the state or federal government, many struggle to make ends meet and adjust to society after spending years behind bars.