Unjustly Convicted Prisoners Released After Decades of Imprisonment
The problem of unjustly convicted prisoners in America never seems to go away. Groups such as the Innocence Project have long been striving for the release of prisoners who should not have been sentenced in the first instance. Finally, some unjustly convicted prisoners are getting released.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper recently issued a pardon of innocence to five men who spent decades in prison after being wrongfully convicted of serious crimes.
One of the previously incarcerated victims of injustice, Ronnie Long, was finally released in August at the age of 64, having spent over four decades of incarceration on rape and robbery charges that proved to be untrue. Long, a Black man, was sentenced to life in prison in 1976.
Evidence proved that Long was innocent, however it was confirmed that law enforcement purposefully withheld this crucial evidence from the defense.
Among the other four that were charged unfairly were Teddy Isbell, Damian Mills, Kenneth Kagonyera and Larry Williams, who were pressured into pleading guilty to robbery and murder charges, despite being innocent.
Due to their time spent unjustly incarcerated, all men are eligible to retrieve compensation from the state, due to Gov. Cooper’s pardons.
Gov. Cooper stated that it is important to acknowledge citizens who are incorrectly charged for serious crimes, as it reveals deep failures within the legal system. Years of innocent lives are wasted if wrongful or forced convictions continue to exist, which is especially horrific when people are unjustly accused based on racial bias.
Tragically, our criminal justice system continues to be racist towards people of color, and there is still much work to be done. Those convicted on false charges cannot get the time they lost back, even when they are ultimately exonerated; this fight is long from over for many others who still remain wrongfully imprisoned, and for those to come in the future.
There is a common thread to these injustices. Those who are unjustly convicted and sentenced to decades in prison are predominantly poor, racial minorities and ill-educated. All who claim to support justice must denounce every instance in which innocent people are incarcerated.