Report: African Americans are more likely to face wrongful convictions

| Mar 7, 2017 | Wrongful Convictions |

According to a new report that examined roughly 1,900 exonerations nationwide, innocent African Americans are far more likely than other races to be wrongfully convicted of crimes they did not commit.

The report, which was issued today by the National Registry of Exonerations and titled Race and Wrongful Convictions in the United States, found that 47 percent of all exonerations reviewed involved African Americans, which is more than three times their actual percentage of the U.S. population.

In addition, the report discovered that African Americans make up a “great majority” of the more than 1,800 additional innocent individuals who were cleared in “group exonerations” after being framed and convicted in multiple large-scale police scandals.

Just how bad is it?

Unfortunately, this report uncovered several more troubling statistics. For instance, based on the analysis of the 1,900 wrongful convictions and exonerations listed by the National Registry of Exonerations, researchers found that:

  • Misconduct, including hiding evidence and witness tampering, was found in 76 percent of cases in which African Americans were wrongfully convicted, and later exonerated, of murder.
  • Innocent African Americans are roughly seven times more likely to be wrongfully convicted of murder than innocent white individuals.
  • Innocent African Americans who are wrongfully convicted of murder, but later exonerated, spent, on average, three years longer in prison than white individuals who were exonerated for murder.
  • Innocent African Americans are roughly 12 times more likely to be wrongfully convicted of drug crimes than innocent white individuals.
  • Innocent African Americans in jail for sexual assault are three-and-a-half times more likely to be innocent than their white counterparts.

While the researchers noted that several factors may be contributing to these discrepancies among races, the report nevertheless raises the issue of whether the justice system is truly blind.