Luis Vargas, who had been in prison for 16 years, reacts in court as he is exonerated, Nov. 23, 2015, in Los Angeles
Francine Orr—AP
February 3, 2016 3:29 AM EST

A record-breaking number of people were exonerated in 2015 — freed after serving time in American prisons for crimes they did not commit.

In all, 149 people spent an average of 15 years in prison before being cleared last year, according to a new report (.pdf) out Wednesday from the National Registry of Exonerations, a project at the University of Michigan Law School.

The convictions ranged from lower level offenses, such as 47 drug crimes, to major felonies, including 54 murder convictions that were overturned. Five of the convicts were awaiting execution and were saved last year when courts ruled…

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