Document Type


Publication Date



In September 2012, the National Registry of Exonerations began a research study of all the cases in our database that involve post-conviction recantations by witnesses or victims. This is the first systematic study of recantations ever conducted. Its purpose is to identify patterns and trends among these cases, with a particular focus on the circumstances that first elicit the false testimony, and on the official reactions to the recantations by judges and other authorities. Our data set includes all the cases in the Registry as of February 28, 2013 – a total of 1,068 cases, 250 of which involve recantations. We developed a coding system to track various features of these cases, from the crime (or alleged crime) and initial investigation through the conviction, post-conviction proceedings, re-investigation, and exoneration of the defendant. In early April, we finished coding the cases, and we presented initial findings at the Innocence Network Conference on April 20th. This memo provides background on the project and a brief summary of our findings thus far.