The National Registry of Exonerations has released its latest report that concludes 125 people, including 6 black inmates sentenced to death, were exonerated in 2014. With this number being the highest amount of yearly exonerations to date, the report also shows a breakdown of how African Americans were disproportionately impacted.
According to the registry, 66 black people were exonerated for a range of crimes, with exactly half of them being cleared for murder charges, 14 cleared of drug sale or possession charges, and 11 cleared of sexual assault charges. Of the six exonerated inmates on death row, 100 percent of them were black.
The latest numbers released by the registry further reflect on the injustices of our criminal justice system and the prison industrial complex that we face today. Reports show that roughly one-third of all black men in the U.S. will serve prison time, while their white counterparts are six times less likely to be incarcerated.
One of the cases highlighted within the registry is the 1975 conviction of Ricky Jackson. Jackson was convicted of murder, attempted murder and robbery, and after spending 39 years in prison, he was exonerated last year when the sole eyewitness of the incident came forward and confessed he had not seen the crime. Jackson’s prison time serves as the longest incarceration period for any exoneree to date, and is a direct indication of the immediate need for criminal justice reform.