In 2012 the University of Michigan Law School initiated a project in conjunction with the Centre on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law to compile detailed information on every known exoneration in the United States commencing in 1989. The criteria for inclusion in the registry consists of cases in which a person was wrongfully convicted of a crime and later cleared of all charges, based on new evidence of innocence.
Scanning the list, it is immediately apparent that many of the persons with overturned convictions are black males. To read the details of each exoneration is to make one angry over the unchecked corruption of police, prosecutors, and witnesses in the criminal justice system, leading to grave injustices visited upon powerless people.
Here are a few of the worst cases:
- RANDOLPH WILLIAMS State: New York
Date of Exoneration: 3/15/2016
In 2008, Randolph Williams was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for a murder in Brooklyn, New York. He was acquitted at a re-trial in 2016 after witnesses admitted they were coerced by police to falsely identify Williams as the gunman.
- LUTHER JONES JR. State: California
Date of Exoneration: 2/17/2016
In 1998, in Lake County, California, Luther Jones, Jr. was sentenced to 27 years in prison for sexually assaulting his ex-girlfriend’s 10-year-old daughter. He was exonerated in 2016 when the complainant admitted that her mother forced her to lie about the assault in order to keep Jones from getting custody of a child he and the mother had together.
- BEN BAKER State: Illinois
Date of Exoneration: 1/14/2016
In 2006, Ben Baker was sentenced to 18 years for possession of cocaine and heroin in Chicago. He was exonerated in 2016 after the police officer in charge of his case was convicted of framing suspected drug dealers and forcing people to pay bribes to avoid false arrest.
- SHAWN WHIRL State: Illinois
Date of Exoneration: 10/13/2015
In 1991, Shawn Whirl was sentenced to 60 years in prison after falsely confessing to murdering a cab driver in Chicago. He was exonerated in 2015 based on evidence that his confession was the result of physical torture by police.
- QUENTIN CARTER State: Michigan
Date of Exoneration: 6/25/2015
In 1992, 17-year-old Quentin Carter was convicted of raping a 10-year-old girl in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Carter was exonerated in 2015, after serving nearly 17 years in prison, when the victim testified that she was raped by her mother’s boyfriend who then beat her until she falsely accused Carter.
- HANNAH OVERTON State: Texas
Date of Exoneration: 4/8/2015
In 2007, in Corpus Christi, Texas, Hannah Overton was sentenced to life in prison without parole for forcing her 4-year-old foster son to consume a lethal dose of salt. She was exonerated in 2015 when medical evidence that had been concealed by the prosecution showed the boy’s salt level was not lethal at the time he was brought to the hospital.
- JOHNNIE SAVORY State: Illinois
Date of Exoneration: 1/12/2015
Johnnie Savory was sentenced to 50 to 100 years in prison after falsely confessing to a double murder in Peoria in 1977, when he was 14 years old. He was paroled in 2006, but continued to fight for exoneration. He was pardoned by Governor Pat Quinn in January 2015 and shortly thereafter, DNA test results were disclosed showing he was not the killer.
- GLENN FORD State: Louisiana
Date of Exoneration: 3/11/2014
Glenn Ford was sentenced to death for murdering a shopkeeper in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1984 in a case riddled with prosecutor misconduct, misleading forensic evidence, perjury, and inadequate legal defense. He was exonerated years after these flaws were exposed, when an informant told law enforcement that the real killer—one of the original suspects—had confessed to the killing.
- DAVID CAMM State: Indiana
Date of Exoneration: 10/24/2013
In 2002 and again in 2006, David Camm was convicted of the 2000 murder of his wife and two children in southern Indiana, and sentenced to life in prison. He was acquitted in a third trial in 2013 after the defense presented DNA evidence that another man had committed the crime and tried to blame it on Camm.
- DANIEL TAYLOR State: Illinois
Date of Exoneration: 6/28/2013
Arrested at age 17, Daniel Taylor was sentenced to life without parole for a 1992 double murder in Chicago. Investigations by the Chicago Tribune, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and the Center on Wrongful Convictions revealed that police and prosecutors lied and concealed evidence that Taylor was in police custody at the time of the murders.
To date there have been 1,740 exonerations reported, made up of 476 sex crimes, 756 murder/manslaughter, 163 drugs, 94 robbery, and 251 classified as “other”. The race of the victims of wrongful conviction is 692 Caucasian, 811 Black, 200 Hispanic and 360 “other”.
In 2013 Texas topped the state-by-state breakdown of wrongfully convicted, with 13 exonerations followed by Illinois, New York, Washington, California, Michigan and Missouri.
The average number of years lost is 9.04 and the total years lost by the entire list is 15,732. These are shameful statistics…
So much for Lord William Blackstone’s admonition in the 1760’s from his “Commentary on the Laws of England” that “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer”. The National Registry reveals suffering that is beyond belief.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang