The legacy of racism in America’s “justice” system has frequently resulted in the release of Black men from prison, after they’ve spent decades locked up for crimes they were convicted for under sketchy circumstances.
Such is the case of Crosley Green, a 63-year-old Black man who spent more than 30 years behind bars before he was released from prison on Tuesday by a Florida judge.
According to a CBS News report, Green was convicted of murder and sentenced to death after a woman pointed him out in a photo line and said he was responsible for kidnapping and killing her ex-boyfriend. An all-white jury in 1990 looked at that evidence and found him guilty.
From CBS News:
Green’s attorneys, Keith Harrison and Jeane Thomas, accuses the prosecution of using faulty evidence and pressuring witnesses when prosecuting the murder of Charles “Chip” Flynn, who was found shot in a Florida citrus grove in 1989.
Flynn’s ex-girlfriend, Kim Hallock, had been with him that night, and told investigators they had been robbed and Flynn’s truck was hijacked as they sat in the vehicle late at night. Hallock told investigators the suspect was a Black man, but some investigators said her story didn’t add up.
Flynn’s family and friends told “48 Hours” in 1999 that Flynn had a new girlfriend and Hallock was upset about the breakup. Hallock, who has never been a suspect in the death, picked Green, who had recently been released from jail, out of a photo lineup.
Green was arrested and charged with kidnapping, robbery and murder, though there was no direct evidence linking him to the shooting. Green said he was at a party at the time of the murder.
In 2018, a federal judge overturned Green’s conviction on the basis that prosecutors kept evidence from his lawyers during that 1990 trial. That evidence is especially notable, as it came from the investigators who actually questioned the witness who made the allegations against Green. Based on her changing stories, investigators told prosecutors that they believed she was actually guilt of the crime—the state did not share that information with Green’s defense.
Despite the questions about his guilt, Green has remained in prison since his conviction was overturned because the state of Florida has appealed the ruling and wants to keep him imprisoned.
On Tuesday, however, federal Judge Roy B. Dalton granted a motion from Green’s lawyers to release him from prison, pointing out that his age and a recent exposure to tuberculosis while incarcerated puts him at increased risk for getting COVID-19.
Florida state prosecutors fought the motion, of course, because keeping a man locked up for more than half his life on specious evidence is not enough for them.
But in his ruling, Dalton said that Green poses no danger to society and added that, “The public has a strong interest in the release of a prisoner whom the Court has found to be incarcerated in violation of the Constitution.”
Green, unfortunately, isn’t completely out of the woods—he will be on house arrest until a decision on the state’s challenge of his overturned conviction is made by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.