Police records showed that Taylor was in custody at the time of the crime
Daniel Taylor received a life sentence in 1995 after being charged with murder, robbery and home invasion.
The problem? Police records showed that Taylor was in custody at the time of the crime. In 2013, nearly 20 years after his arrest and conviction, he was exonerated when a series of reports by the Chicago Tribune revealed missteps and cover-ups by police, which led to the wrongful conviction. This is one of 87 cases in 2013 in which an innocent individual was cleared of false charges in the United States.
Exonerations across the country are increasing, according to a report released by the National Registry of Exonerations. The group, a collaboration between the University of Michigan and Northwestern University, found that wrongful convictions often relied on false confessions and erroneous eyewitness testimony. Exonerations often use DNA testing that was unavailable at the time of the original conviction.
This rise in recorded exonerations is in part due to a growing focus on the validity of criminal convictions, which at times land innocent people behind bars. Between 1989 and 2014, there have been 1,281 individual exonerations in the nation, according to the report.
Exonerations nationwide have ranged between 53 and 85 in each of the past 13 years. That is more than double those in 1989, which has 20 cases of exoneration on record.
The number of cases in which innocent individuals pleaded guilty is on the rise as well. The Registry report said this trend indicates a greater understanding between authorities and defendants who accepted plea bargains rather than risk greater punishment at trial.
Homicide and sexual assault make up the most wrongful convictions. Between 1989 and 2013, 597 homicide cases and 398 sexual assault cases were overturned.
Black defendants make up the largest percentage of exonerees at 47 percent of all cases. This is particularly glaring for prisoners jailed for rape. Black defendants make up a quarter of prisoners convicted for rape, but over half of those exonerated.
Exonerations on record will continue to rise as the National Registry of Exonerations examines and tracks more cases, the report said.