Understanding the causes of wrongful convictions and what we can do to fix the system


As the number of DNA exonerations has grown across the country in recent years, wrongful convictions have revealed disturbing fissures and trends in our criminal justice system. Together, these cases show us how the criminal justice system is broken and how urgently it needs to be fixed. In each case where DNA has proven innocence beyond doubt, an overlapping array of causes has emerged – from mistakes and misconduct to factors of race and class.

Those exonerated by DNA testing aren’t the only people who have been wrongfully convicted. For every case that involves DNA, there are hundreds that do not. Only a fraction of criminal cases involve biological evidence that can be subjected to DNA testing, and even when such evidence exists, it is often lost or destroyed after a conviction. Since they don’t have access to a definitive test like DNA, many wrongfully convicted people have a slim chance of ever proving their innocence, but we at MIP take on both DNA and non-DNA cases.

Here you will find further information about common causes of wrongful convictions and updates about the policy work occurring in each of our five states: