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Half of Prison Exonerees Are African-American

Posted: May 24, 2012


Of the 873 individuals released from prison in the past 23 years after serving time for crimes they did not commit, half were African American, the National Registry of Exonerations said in its inaugural report.

"We know the race or ethnicity of the defendant for 92 percent of the exonerations, which is 802 of the 873 exonerees, and the distribution is lopsided: half of all exonerees are black, 38 percent are white, and 11 percent are Hispanic," said the report. Titled "Exonerations in the United States, 1989-2012," the report was issued by the University of Michigan Law School and the Center for Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University Law School.

"It's no surprise that black defendants are heavily overrepresented among exonerees: they are heavily overrepresented among those arrested and imprisoned for violent crimes and drug crimes," the report continued. "But the disproportions we see are greater than what one would expect."


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