A new report from a Loma Linda University biostatics professor reveals that African-Americans are exonerated at a slower rate than any other race in the country. The HuffPost reported that according to Professor Pamela Perez’ data, blacks who are exonerated after a wrongful conviction have served an average of 12.68 years compared to 9.4 years for whites and 7.87 for Latinos.
Perez’ findings are based on an examination of the 1,450 exonerations listed on the
National Registry of Exonerations
through October 20, 2014. While she notes the racial disparity in years served, she concedes that she can’t explain the reasoning.
“All we can do is infer,” Perez told HuffPost. “You can’t prove a darn thing.”
Her sentiment was echoed by University of Michigan Law Professor Samuel Gross, who is the exoneration registry’s editor. Gross cautioned people about reading too much into the findings without conducting additional research.
The Innocence Project looked at a smaller set of 212 cases in which DNA proof freed their clients. (The national registry includes exonerations due to other contributing factors like false confessions and perjury.) The project found a similar racial disparity, with black inmates serving 14.3 years before being exonerated compared to 12.2 years for all other racial groups.
“These two numbers are statistically different, suggesting that the difference between them isn’t due to chance,” Innocence Project research analyst Vanessa Meterko told HuffPost. “It’s notable, but it’s hard to say what the difference is.
The study was funded by the consumer research group