Thursday, March 15, 2018

Record # of wrongly-jailed freed in US in 2017

Discovery of Police Corruption Freed Dozens of Imprisoned Americans in 2017 - Hit & Run : - Scott Shackford:

Mar. 14, 2018 - "In 2017, 84 Americans were freed from prison after revelations of government misconduct helped prove them innocent. That sets a record, according to an annual report on exonerations in America... An additional 96 defendants in Chicago and Baltimore were released last year in 'group exonerations' as a result of two very high-profile police corruption cases.

"The details are part of the National Registry of Exonerations' annual report, a project by the University of California Irvine Newkirk Center for Science and Society, the University of Michigan Law School, and the Michigan State University College of Law. All in all, 139 exonerations were added to their registry for 2017, a drop from 171 in 2016. Though the total number of exonerations came down, a record number of people were exonerated due to official misconduct, mistaken eyewitness identification, false confessions, and perjury or false accusations.

"There has been a significant decline in exoneration for drug crimes ... because a backlog of cases from Harris County, Texas, has finally been cleared. In Harris County, the district attorney's office discovered hundreds of cases where defendants pleaded guilty to drug possession but subsequent crime lab tests discovered no actual illegal substances in the drugs. The county has been working since 2014 to go through all these cases and free people imprisoned for substances that turned out to not be illegal....

"Ledura Watkins, 61, was convicted of murder in 1976 in Detroit. After serving 41 years in prison, he was exonerated and released in June after details came out about faulty forensic evidence and police and prosecutor misconduct. His case represents the longest sentence served by anybody on the registry....

"Among the behaviors that led to this record-setting year, the most common form was concealing evidence. Of the 51 cases where a person convicted of homicide was subsequently exonerated in 2017, 43 involved official misconduct.... There were 29 exonerations involving false confessions in 2017, another record..... Eleven exonerations were a result of false confessions connected to ... one detective.

"In 66 exonerations — almost half the total — the underlying crime didn't even happen."

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