Welcome to the Global Registry of Claims of Innocence
The Global Registry of Claims of Innocence is for inmates around the world who claim their innocence of the crimes for which they were convicted. The Registry initially will be a simple list by country (and by state for the United States). As of June 8, 2016, the U.S. list has names of 729 inmates who claim innocence.
PURPOSE OF THE REGISTRY
The goal of this website is to identify by name the people who may have been wrongly convicted and imprisoned, and who claim their innocence.
It is hoped that the humanizing of this problem of wrongful conviction, by listing claimants by name, will increase the interest of citizens and their governments and the media in resolving these claims. Such resolution may come from the work of Innocence Projects in the Innocence Network, Innocence Commissions or Conviction Integrity Units, or other processes.
The eventual goal is to list every inmate who claims innocence, and keep that list current. It is our hope that such a listing will contribute to the global reduction in the number of innocent people in prisons. Only those people whose guilt is established, and REMAINS established, beyond a reasonable doubt, should be incarcerated.
The growth of the Registry will come in stages, with the stages in different countries, states and prisons overlapping.
- Listing of inmates claiming innocence from information available on the internet.
- Soliciting interest from the organizations and individuals who are working to exonerate the wrongly convicted.
- Soliciting interest directly from inmates.
To submit the name of an inmate claiming innocence, send his/her name, state, year of conviction and primary crimes to the email or U.S. mail addresses in the “Contact Us” section. Also, please send us all requests for changing any of the listed information.
Each inmate’s listing has his/her name, and the date of conviction and the most serious of convicted offenses. There are many other people who suffer from wrongful convictions, including those who have been freed from prison, but who have not been clearly exonerated or freed from the taint of their wrongful convictions. However, this Registry is restricted to those who are incarcerated at the time of listing. The Registry is for Claims of innocence of all, or the most serious of the felony charges for which incarcerated.
The key criterion is that if the claimant is innocent of the charge, as claimed, then his/her incarceration would likely cease. Innocence can mean that the claimant was not involved in any way or that there was a valid defense, such as self-defense to the action by the claimant.
There are many in prison whose sentences are excessive or who were overcharged, or who were younger than 18 and were sentenced to long terms in adult prisons or whose third crime was in a three-strikes state. There is much injustice to be found in those cases, but they are not listed here. Perhaps the Registry can be expanded later to include those excessively charged and sentenced.
HOW MANY INMATES CLAIM INNOCENCE AND HOW MANY ARE INNOCENT?
Although it’s commonly thought that most inmates claim innocence, studies have shown that the actual percentage in the U.S. is around 15 percent. Thousands of people have applied for assistance from Innocence Projects in the U.S. affiliated with the Innocence Network. However, except for those exonerated, the names of the vast majority of claimants are invisible. Many of them are, in fact, innocent. When this Global Registry is fully operational, the listing of claimants here will be a more precise measure of the number of claims of innocence.
From studies of the exonerations since 1989, it’s estimated that between 1 and 5 percent of inmates in the U.S. are actually innocent. Using a base population of inmates in the U.S. of two million, that means that there are between 20,000 and 100,000 innocent people in U.S. prisons.
In the book 80 Proposals to STOP Wrongful Convictions – Before the End of This Decade (2015) by Morrison Bonpasse, the a two percent estimate of wrongful convictions is used.
As 15% is approximately 1/7 of 100% it may be that between 7-35% (7X1 and 7X5) of the people listed on this Registry are actually innocent. One approach to quantifying the number of claims of innocence is to examine the claims presented in the “Last Statements” of executed inmates. See the recent article “Claims of Innocence
in ‘Last Statements’ of Texas inmates since 1982.” by Morrison Bonpasse (Draft, Feb 12, 2013)
Since 1989, over 300 people have been exonerated in the United States using DNA technology, and another 700 through other means. The National Registry of Exonerations, created in 2012 by Northwestern University Law School and the University of Michigan Law School, contains their names, and the number is growing. There were another 1,170 wrongly convicted people arising from 13 “group exonerations” such as the day care hysteria cases in the 1980’s. This Registry focuses on individual claims of innocence and therefore their numbers can be compared to the 1,000+ individuals whose exonerations are listed by name on the Registry of Exonerations.
FUTURE OF THIS REGISTRY
When funding for this project is secured, the number of claimants of innocence will grow more rapidly. When volunteers in other countries come forward, the names of claimants in those countries will be added. When inmates who claim innocence are either exonerated or abandon their claims or die, their names will be removed from the active list, and moved to an inactive list.
The Registry is a project of BonPasse Exoneration Services, a non-profit Maine corporation. If the Registry is deemed valuable to the overall struggle for justice, it is expected that the sponsorship of the Registry will be transferred to a larger organization with a compatible mission.