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Study shows black Americans face wrongful convictions

Wisconsin residents may be interested to learn that, according to a study, African-Americans are statistically more likely to be wrongfully convicted than Anglos of violent crimes and drug-related offenses. It appeared that factors potentially included official misconduct and racial bias.

The study analyzed the cases of 1,900 defendants who were ultimately convicted of the crimes but were then later exonerated. Of the defendants, about 47 percent were African-Americans. This number is about three times their percentage representation in the general American population. When exonerations for murder convictions were analyzed, it was found that African-Americans were seven times more likely to be wrongfully convicted than their white counterparts. When it came to drug convictions, black Americans were 12 times more likely to be wrongfully convicted.

The number of exonerations has continued to rise since 1989. In 2015, there were 160 cases. 2016 reached a record with 166 exonerations. Of those exonerations, 52 defendants were ultimately exonerated for murder while 73 others were exonerated for crimes that were not considered to be violent, including drug possession and other drug-related offenses.

When people believe that they were wrongfully convicted on drug charges, a criminal defense attorney may file to appeal the conviction especially if there is evidence that race discrimination or bias played a factor in the conviction. The attorney may analyze the evidence to determine if it was handled properly, that it was properly tested and that the authorities followed all of the procedures. Advances in technology may be reason to retest some of the evidence or reopen the case.

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