In the latest water-is-wet news, a newly released report shows that the large majority of the 2,000 people in the United States formally exonerated of crimes they never committed are black and subject to police malfeasance.
The report, “Race and Wrongful Convictions in the United States,” (PDF) was published Tuesday, and looks at exonerations of those defendants since 1989. On average, those who were cleared had served almost nine years in prison. Some had been on death row. Others were younger than 18 when they were convicted, or had intellectual disabilities.
There were 166 exonerations in 2016, an average of three per week ― the most since the analysis began in 1989. The report found a range of factors leading to wrongful convictions, including government misconduct, false guilty pleas by innocent people and situations where it was later determined that no crime was committed at all.
The Huffington Post breaks down the report according to three categories: Murder, Sexual Assault and Drug Crimes.
While African Americans make up about 13 percent of the U.S. population, half of all defendants exonerated for murder are black and spend on average more than 14 years in prison. On average, African Americans who were exonerated waited three years longer in prison before their release than whites in similar circumstances.
A black person imprisoned for sexual assault is 3.5 times more likely to be innocent than a white inmate convicted on similar charges. Blacks also received much longer prison sentences than whites who were exonerated of sexual assault charges, spending an average of 4.5 years longer in prison before being cleared.
Researchers found that a major cause of this disparity was mistaken identification by white victims.
And although Black and White Americans use drugs at about the same rate, African Americans are about five times more likely to go to prison for drug possession as whites. Whereas whites may receive a slap on the wrist for drug crimes, the report finds that police enforce drug laws more vigorously against the Black community. Blacks are more frequently “stopped, searched, arrested and convicted ― including in cases in which they are innocent,” researchers write.
The worst part of all of this is that although these peoples’ lives were ruined, they often receive little assistance as they struggle to adjust to life on the outside, devoid of job skills.
Read the report in its entirety here.
SOURCE: The Huffington Post