By SNN.BZ STAFF
MANY INNOCENT PEOPLE SPEND DECADES IN PRISON
According to the Innocence Project, between 2.3% and 5% of all US prisoners are innocent. With nearly 2.3 million people incarcerated in the US, this gives us a low-end estimate of more than 20,000 people, and at the higher end, over 100,000, However, it is important to note that these are estimates and not exact figures.
It is disheartening to know that there are innocent people in prison. The Brennan Center for Justice reports that nearly 40% of the US prison population, or 576,000 people, are behind bars with no compelling public safety reason. This is a concerning issue that needs to be addressed.
- Alfred Chestnut, Ransom Watkins, and Andrew Stewart: They were wrongfully convicted of murder in 1984 when they were teenagers, and spent 36 years in prison in Maryland. They were exonerated in 2019 after new evidence proved their innocence.
- Archie Williams: He was wrongfully convicted of rape and attempted murder in 1983, and spent 37 years in prison in Louisiana. He was exonerated in 2019 after DNA testing cleared his name. He later became a contestant on America’s Got Talent.
- Calvin Duncan: He was wrongfully convicted of murder in 1985, and spent 34 years in prison in Louisiana. He was exonerated in 2019 after the Supreme Court ruled that his conviction was unconstitutional because he was tried by a non-unanimous jury. He is now a lawyer and an advocate for criminal justice reform.
- Cathy Woods: She was wrongfully convicted of murder in 1980, and spent 35 years in prison in Nevada. She was exonerated in 2015 after DNA testing identified the real killer. She received a record-breaking $3 million settlement from the state.
- Clarence Moses-EL: He was wrongfully convicted of rape and assault in 1988, and spent 28 years in prison in Colorado. He was exonerated in 2017 after another man confessed to the crime and DNA testing supported his claim. He received a $1.9 million compensation from the state.
- Mr. Long is a Black man who was accused of raping a White woman in Concord, North Carolina, in 1976. He was convicted by an all-White jury and sentenced to two life terms. He spent 44 years in prison before his conviction was overturned in 2020, after evidence of police misconduct and withheld evidence came to light. He was pardoned by the governor and sued the city of Concord and the state of North Carolina for violating his civil rights. He received a $25 million settlement, which is the largest ever awarded to a wrongfully convicted person in the state. He also received a public apology from the city of Concord for the harm they caused him and his family.
Mr. Long’s case is one of the many examples of racial injustice and wrongful conviction in the U.S. criminal justice system. His lawyers said that no amount of money can fully restore what was taken from him, but they hope that his settlement will bring him some peace and justice.
Ronnie Long case: Man gets $25M for wrongful rape conviction after serving 44 years in prison. Ronnie Long, Black man wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for 44 years, gets $25 million settlement and apology from city.
THEN THERE IS THE HORRIFIC CASE OF THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE
The Central Park Five, or the Exonerated Five, are Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise. They were wrongfully convicted of raping and assaulting a white woman in Central Park in 1989, when they were teenagers. They spent between six and 13 years in prison before their convictions were vacated in 2002, after Matias Reyes confessed to the crime and his DNA matched the evidence.
The five men have since moved on with their lives, but they still face challenges and trauma from their ordeal. They received a $41 million settlement from the city of New York in 2014, and a $3.9 million settlement from the state of New York in 2016. They have also become advocates for criminal justice reform and racial justice. Here is a brief summary of their current status:
- Antron McCray lives in Georgia with his wife and six children. He works as a forklift operator and avoids media attention.
- Kevin Richardson lives in New Jersey with his wife and two daughters. He works as an advocate for criminal justice reform and speaks at various events and schools.
- Yusef Salaam lives in Georgia with his wife and 10 children. He is an author, speaker, and activist. He received a lifetime achievement award from President Barack Obama in 2016. He published a memoir, Better, Not Bitter: Living on Purpose in the Pursuit of Racial Justice, in 2021.
- Raymond Santana lives in Georgia with his fiancée and daughter. He is an entrepreneur and owns a clothing line called Park Madison NYC. He also produces documentaries and podcasts.
- Korey Wise lives in New York City. He is the most affected by the trauma of his imprisonment, especially since he spent most of his time in adult facilities. He suffers from PTSD and depression. He donated $190,000 to the Innocence Project, which helped exonerate him and his friends. He also supports other wrongfully convicted people and their families.