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Black Americans more likely to be convicted and exonerated

Massachusetts residents may be interested to learn that, according to a study, black Americans are more likely to be wrongfully convicted of drug crimes and violent crimes, such as murder and sexual assault. The study suggests that the wrongful convictions may be caused by racial bias and official misconduct.

The study analyzed 1,900 defendants who had been wrongfully convicted between 1989 and 2016 and were later exonerated. Of these defendants who were exonerated, 47 percent were black Americans, three times their representation in the U.S. population. When the numbers were broken down, black Americans were seven times more likely to be convicted on murder charges only to be exonerated later. Black Americans were also 12 times more likely to be wrongfully convicted on drug crimes.

According to a group that tracks U.S. exonerations, the rate of official misconduct was higher in murder cases that involved a black American. Explicit racism, unconscious bias and institutional discrimination also often played factors in cases where a black American was a defendant. The number of exonerations has continued to rise, with there being 160 exonerations in 2015 and 166 exonerations in 2016.

A person can be wrongfully convicted on drug crimes due to racial bias and official misconduct. In the event that a person is convicted on drug possession or drug trafficking charges, a criminal law attorney may appeal the case so that the court can take another look at the evidence. If an appeal is granted, the accused person may get a new trial, especially if there is evidence that the prosecutor and other individuals involved in the case did not follow proper procedures. If the accused person is not granted a new trial, new evidence or new techniques for analyzing evidence could potentially be used to exonerate the person later.

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Black Americans more likely to be convicted and exonerated | Anthony M. Salerno, P.C.