At this point, it’s no shock when someone spends a lifetime in prison before being exonerated of the crimes that sent them there. We know that the criminal justice system is rife with false convictions and the racism, inequities and shoddy policing practices that lead to them.
But this case is a doosie even by those standards: A Black man named Kevin Strickland was released from prison in Missouri yesterday after serving 43 years of a life sentence for a murder he didn’t commit, reports the Washington Post. Strickland, now 62, was locked up most of his life despite that fact that multiple people vouched for his alibi, the real killers said in court that Strickland wasn’t involved and the only eyewitness against him has said for years that she was pressured to pick him out of a lineup by a known dirty cop who killed his wife and himself just months later.
Oh, and did we mention the problem with Strickland’s trials?
From the Washington Post
The trial ended with a hung jury after the only Black juror refused to find him guilty. Soon thereafter, Strickland was retried, this time with an all-White jury, and was convicted of the triple murder.
Just rotten, and yet it gets worse.
Strickland’s exoneration was opposed by Missouri Gov. Mike Parsons, who said a pardon for the innocent man wasn’t a priority. Meanwhile, Parsons couldn’t wait to put on his Captain Save ‘Em cape for Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who pleaded guilty to weapons charges for coming outside of their house to threaten peaceful protestors with an assault weapon and a handgun. (One of them is now running for U.S. Senate and thinks caping up for Kyle Rittenhouse is a good campaign tactic.)
As we said, innocent Black men being exonerated decades after being wrongful convictions is no surprise, but here’s a partial list from just the past week:
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- On Wednesday, the “Groveland Four”—Black men falsely accused and wrongly convicted of raping a white woman in Florida in 1949—had the charges against them thrown out by a Florida judge, CNN reported. All four men are already dead, some having been tortured or killed by law enforcement at the time.
- On Nov. 18, a New York Supreme Court judge finally tossed convictions for two men who spent decades in prison for killing Malcolm X, even though one of the men who actually admitted to killing him said they weren’t involved and had already been released from prison years ago.
- Also on Nov. 18, Julius Jones had his death sentence commuted just hours before he was to be killed by the state of Oklahoma. Jones must still serve a life sentence for the 1999 murder of Paul Turner, despite mounting evidence that he may not have killed the man.
When is enough enough?