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Exonerated While Black: America’s Guilty Secret about Convicting Innocents

Picture: State of Louisiana (PD)

Picture: State of Louisiana (PD)

Sadhbh Walshe writes at the Guardian:

It’s hard to imagine a worse fate than being sent to prison or even being sentenced to death for a crime you did not commit. There’s no way of knowing for sure how many of the over 2 million Americans who are currently incarcerated were wrongfully convicted, but studies estimate that somewhere between 2 and 5% of them, which would amount to up to 100,000 people, may be innocent of their crimes.

What we do know, however, is that since 1989, more than 1,000 people, some of whom have spent decades in prison, have been exonerated (pdf). We also know that of that number. more than half were black and male; and their treatment by the criminal justice system, post release, is not a whole lot better than it was prior to their incarceration.

In 1989, the 16-year-old Shareef Cousins was convicted on eyewitness testimony of a murder he didn’t commit, and was sentenced to death.

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