Innocence in Washington State
Since 1973 there have been 164 exonerations from death row in the United States. One of them was in Washington State. The Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) maintains this list of innocent persons based on these criteria: cases that involve former death row inmates who have a. been acquitted of all charges related to the crime that placed them on death row, or b. had all charges related to the crime that placed them on death row dismissed by the prosecution, or c. been granted a complete pardon based on evidence of innocence. Some critics assert that people on this list were not really innocent, despite the removal of all charges against them. Cases included in DPIC’s list are based on objective criteria, differing from subjective judgments about who is “actually innocent.” Some have suggested that if the original prosecutor still thinks the defendant is “guilty,” even though the defendant has been unanimously acquitted, then such a person should be excluded from the list. But DPIC’s list avoids such personal suspicions and relies instead on the traditional source given the authority to separate guilt from innocence—our justice system.
Benjamin Harris is the Washingtonian who is on DPIC's list of death row exonerations. Contributing factors to his wrongful conviction were false confession and inadequate legal defense - two of the most common reasons for wrongful conviction.
We can get it wrong in Washington.
We have gotten in wrong in Washington.