A recent student indicates that as many as 1 in 25 criminal defendants handed the death sentence in the U.S. is innocent. Contrasting previous calculations that have merely divided the number of confirmed exonerations by the number of defendants, Gross and his colleagues also account for re-sentenced inmates who would likely have been exonerated if they would have remained on death row. With as many as one-third of death row convictions resulting in re-sentencing to life imprisonment, this is a significant population that is now being considered by statisticians.

While the stated takeaway of this finding is that new calculations into the causes of false convictions are now possible, the larger insight should be into the nature of the death penalty itself. While sentencing an innocent individual to prison is certainly unjust, subjecting even one innocent individual to death is inexcusable. The only way to avoid this possibility is to abolish the death penalty completely. Ridding ourselves of the practice of capital punishment is the only humane solution.