As an increasing number of convictions get overturned on a regular basis, one Midwestern city’s prosecutor has expedited his own plans to keep proving the innocence of the wrongfully imprisoned. Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree, the first Black person elected to that position in all of Kansas, found renewed inspiration on that front from prosecuting a former police detective in Kansas City accused of wrongfully sending dozens of Black people to prison, the Associated Press reported.
Last month, Dupree overturned the conviction of Lamonte McIntyre from a 1994 murder, an action that helped pave the way for his planned “conviction integrity unit” to investigate other possible instances of wrongful incarcerations.
“This in fact is something I wanted to do, but the McIntyre case sped up when it was going to be done,” Dupree told the AP. “And, honestly, it showed the community that it was something that was needed.”
The 35-year-old minister who just happens to also practice law was elected during the summer of 2016, when he made clear his intentions for the office.
“History has shown that when folks get in office and try to pursue convictions rather than justice, mistakes are made,” Dupree, who said a previous arrest showed him the justice system was flawed, told the Fox Kansas City website.”Wrong people are prosecuted.”
There were as many as 120,000 innocent prisoners as of 2014, according to Vice. However, nearly 150 people — a record at the time — were exonerated and released from prison the following year when their sentences were overturned after it had been determined they were wrongfully convicted, NBC News reported.
For Black Kansas City residents, who make up nearly 27 percent of the population there, Dupree’s attention to wrongful convictions was sorely needed.
“In my community, this is a norm,” McIntyre, whom Dupree exonerated last month, told the AP shortly after his conviction was found to be wrongful and overturned following 23 years in prison. “We are not shocked or surprised at the injustice or the brutality … of law enforcement. This is an everyday life for us.”