This Black History Month we joined our innocence network colleagues in raising awareness about the Black wrongful conviction experience. We shared research on race and exonerations from the National Registry of Exonerations (NRE), and the stories of our many Black clients. Here are a few things we shared as part of the conversation on how wrongful convictions disproportionately impact Black men and women:

According to NRE:

  • A Black prisoner serving time for sexual assault is 3.5 times more likely to be innocent than a white sexual assault convict.
  • Black exonerees spend 10.7 years in prison before they’re released versus white exonerees who spend 7.4 years in prison.
  • Judging from exonerations, half of […] innocent murder defendants are African Americans.
  • Black people are 7 times more likely than whites to be wrongfully convicted of murder.

Our Clients

  • Roeling Adams spent 28 years wrongfully incarcerated for first-degree murder. He was released on parole in 2014.
  • Timothy Atkins was convicted of one count of murder and two counts of robbery in 1987 after being misidentified by an eyewitness. He was wrongfully incarcerated for 23 years before he was released in 2007.
  • Brian Banks was wrongfully convicted of rape when he was just 17-years-old. He spent more than 5 years in prison and was exonerated in 2012.
  • Stephen Billiard served 23 years wrongfully incarcerated for murder. He was released in 1993.
  • Reggie Cole was sentenced to 25 years-to-life in prison for a first-degree murder he didn’t commit. He served 16 years before he was freed in 2010.
  • Rodney Gupton was convicted in 2001 for a crime he didn’t commit. He’s been in prison ever since – for 18 years.
  • Jason Kindle spent four years in prison for an armed robbery he didn’t commit. He was released in 2003.
  • Patrick McNeal was wrongfully convicted of the murder of his wife. He has spent the last two decades incarcerated.
  • Guy Miles was wrongfully incarcerated for 18 years and 10 months for a robbery he didn’t commit. He was released on June 20, 2017.
  • Quintin Morris, the California Innocence Project’s latest release, was freed on January 10, 2019. He spent 27 years in prison for three attempted murders he did not commit.
  • Vondell Lewis was wrongfully convicted of murder in 1991, and wasn’t released from prison until 27 years later, when he was granted parole.
  • Horace Roberts was exonerated in October 2018. He spent 20 years wrongfully incarcerated for a murder committed by two other men. The men were arrested in October, shortly after Horace’s release.
  • Jermaine Smothers was wrongfully convicted of murder in 1996. He remains in prison to this day.
  • Kiera Newsome has been imprisoned for a murder she didn’t commit for more than 16 years. On Christmas Eve 2018, then-Governor Jerry Brown commuted her sentence. She will be eligible for parole this year.