Blacks in US are 7 times more likely to be wrongfully convicted than whites

2021-05-24 20:38:41
Blacks in US are 7 times more likely to be wrongfully convicted than whites

African Americans are seven times more likely to be wrongfully convicted of murder and other crimes than white people, US data shows.

Although blacks represent about only 13 percent of the US population, nearly 50% of convicted defendants later found to be innocent have been African American.

Wrongfully convicted Americans can file civil suits alleging their rights have been violated - but in some cases, plaintiffs end up with nothing.

It is particularly difficult to hold law enforcement officers accountable for misconduct, as their actions are largely protected under current US law.

But pressure to make police and other officials liable for their misdeeds is growing with recent racial justice movements.

George Floyd's death last year in Minneapolis, Minnesota, led to a $27 million settlement, and Breonna Taylor's police killing in Louisville, Kentucky saw a $12 million payout.

Jamie Lau, a Duke University law professor and expert on wrongful convictions in the US, said Charles Finch, who served nearly 43 years in prison before being released in 2019 at the age of 81, has not received any compensation.

"He hasn't [yet] received a dime, either from the state statutory scheme or through civil litigation," says Prof Lau, who pointed out that Finch is now too old to work and must rely on family and friends.

"Where we fail people who are wrongly convicted is in not providing them the resources they need as early as possible to help them get back on their feet," he adds. "All of the harms of the wrongful convictions persist in a way that's different but ongoing."


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