Race Bias Is Found in Wrongful Convictions

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Black people convicted of murder or sexual assault are significantly more likely than their white counterparts to be later found innocent of the crimes, according to a review of nearly 2,000 exonerations nationwide over almost three decades.

Innocent blacks also had to wait disproportionately longer for their names to be cleared than innocent whites, the review, released on Tuesday by the National Registry of Exonerations, found. Blacks wrongfully convicted of murder, for example, spent an average of three more years in prison before being released than whites who were cleared.

“It’s no surprise that in this area, as in almost any other that has to do with criminal justice in the United States, race is the big factor,” said Samuel R. Gross, a University of Michigan law professor and a senior editor of the registry, a project of the law school that aims to provide data on false convictions to prevent them in the future.

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