The National Registry of Exonerations Also Reveals Newly Freed Prisoners are African Americans
Two universities have compiled a registry that revealed more than 2,000 prisoners were incorrectly imprisoned for serious crimes since 1989. The astonishing news is more than half of the newly exonerated prisoners were African American, according to Newser.
The National Registry of Exonerations claims to be the largest database of its kind, and it covers the era since DNA testing began to be commonly used. Many of the wrongful convictions can be traced to police corruption and witnesses who lied or later recanted, but there has also been a surprising number of people who confessed to crimes they didn’t commit while under intense interrogation.
“Nobody had an inkling of the serious problem of false confessions until we had this data,” says an executive director of Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions, which compiled the registry along with the University of Michigan Law School. Sponsors hope the registry will shed light on the mistakes of the criminal justice system, allowing them to be prevented in the future, the Los Angeles Times reports. Of all the states, Illinois has the most exonerations listed, but a University of Michigan law professor says more data is needed to make true comparisons: “It’s clear that the exonerations we found are the tip of the iceberg.”
While AT2W reviewed the registry of nearly 900 exonerated prisoners who have gone free, approximately 90% of what the registry shows is a systematic pattern why they were imprisoned. Keep in mind that many of these innocent men were put under lock and key and given a death sentence for the following crimes:
- Sexual assault
- Child Sex Abuse
Here’s the most commonly used methods that most of the exonerated persons were falsely put on the hook for:
- Mistaken Witness ID
- Perjury (police corruption)
- False Accusation (and recanted stories)
- Official Misconduct (also includes police corruption)
Most of the falsely accused were from ages 17-49 years old. The majority of them were mostly Black men, then Caucasian and next Hispanic or unknown.
The sentences mostly ranged from 20 years to life or death in prison and the convictions held them in prison for some up to 25 years or more.
The three most recent cases featured on the National Registry of Exonerations are:
Date of Exoneration: 5/24/2012
In 2002 Brian Banks, age 17, pled guilty to rape of a high school classmate. On May 24, 2012, he was exonerated after the alleged victim admitted she made up the rape. Banks spent 5 years in prison.
Date of Exoneration: 3/27/2012
Thomas Kennedy was exonerated on March 27, 2012, in Cowlitz County, Washington, after 9 years in prison for raping his 11 year old daughter. In January 2012 his daughter, now 22, admitted that she made up the rape because she was mad at her father after her parents divorced.
Date of Exoneration: 2/15/2012
Richard Miles was convicted of murder in Dallas in 1996 and released in 2009 after it was discovered that prosecutors had hidden reports implicating other suspects. In 2010 the main prosecution witnesses recanted. On February 15, 2012, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals found him “actually innocent.”