By Edwin Grimsley, Innocence Project case analyst
Edwin, who has written before for the Innocence Blog, will be speaking on a panel, “Race and Wrongful Convictions,” on Saturday at the 2015 Innocence Network Conference in Orlando, Florida.
Every wrongful conviction draws our attention to a horrific experience, but when teenagers are falsely arrested and convicted, it’s exceptionally heart-wrenching. Sadly, but perhaps not so surprising, cases of wrongfully convicted minors overwhelmingly involve youth of color.
Innocence Project data show that 34 (10%) of the 329 DNA-based exonerees were arrested as minors. Thirty-two out of that 34 (94%) are people of color; specifically, 30 of them (88%) are black. Even though some were as young as 14 when the crime occurred, all were tried in adult court.
The disproportionate figures go deeper. Of the 83 DNA-based exonerees who were arrested when they were younger than 21, 70 (84%) are people of color; 62 (75%) are black. Studies by wrongful conviction experts Sam Gross (2003) and Joshua Tepfer (2010) have noted that blacks are the majority of all youth exonerees.
Why are youth of color drastically over represented? Three key overlapping patterns have emerged:
Full Article from the Innocence Blog