The New York Times yesterday wrote that nearly 139 people were exonerated in the United States after a wrongful conviction. This was made possible by lawyers working in prosecutors’ offices as well as private organizations that have devoted their resources to overturn wrongful convictions. The Times further noted that 50 percent of these exonerations are as a result of the professional exonerators. This report was brought to light by the National Registry of Exonerations, an organization that has been taking care of these cases for the last few decades. A Michigan State University professor known as Barbara O’Brien talked about the issue. He said that these exonerations make her wonder how those who were convicted wrongly feel. In the United States alone, over 2100 people have been exonerated since the introduction of DNA evidence in 1989.
The registry also noted that most of these exonerations had been made possible by professional exonerations. For instance, there is an increase in the number of professionals working with Innocence Projects. In the year 2017, approximately 80 inmates were set free thanks to the professional’s exonerators. The United States registry approximates that there are close to 33 conviction integrity units in America. At the same time, it approximates that there are close to 53 private organizations that are working towards this cause. The Times learned that most of those that were exonerated last year had lost 10.6 years of their life in prison. This means that all the inmates who had been wrongly convicted had lost nearly 1500 years in prison. The person who waited for the longest to be released is a Michigan native known as Ledural Watkins.
He walked from prison last summer after spending four decades in prison. He had been accused and convicted of killing a school teacher. He lost his freedom because of a hair that was found at the crime scene. There are two other gentlemen who spent more time in prison than him. There was a man from Maryland who had spent 46 years in prison. His name was Walter Lomax, and he walked free in 2014. The other person is Paul Gatling from Brooklyn, New York. He spent five decades in prison, and he was released in 2016. It’s important to note that over 50 percent of inmates who were exonerated last year owe it to official misconduct. This includes withholding of evidence, false testimony from analysts and officers threatening the inmates.