A segment on Michigan Radio highlights the efforts of the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission to address the racial disparity among wrongfully convicted individuals in the state.
African Americans make up a disproportionate amount of people found to have been convicted of crimes they did not commit, both in the state and in the nation.
David Moran of the Michigan Innocence Clinic told Michigan Radio that this is primarily due to the lack of adequate defense resources in low-income areas.
“The poorest counties have the fewest resources to provide adequate defense and those are counties where you have a lot of minorities,” Moran told Michigan Radio.
DeShawn Reed and his uncle Marvin were wrongfully convicted in 2001 of a shooting that left the victim paralyzed. They spent eight years in prison before the Michigan Innocence Clinic discovered that the weapon was found in the possession of a man seen at the scene of the shooting. They were exonerated and released in 2009.
Reed told Michigan Radio he was so affected by his wrongful conviction that he now makes a point to document his every move to prevent it from happening again.
“Wherever I’m at, I’m always looking for the camera, I always want to be on camera because there ain’t no telling what somebody else is going to say that I did,” he told Michigan Radio. “I always want to be on camera. Everywhere I go I want to make sure I’m on camera.”
The Michigan Indigent Defense Commission has put forth recommendations for the state to avoid wrongful convictions including better training for defense attorneys, requiring attorneys to investigate cases and ensuring a defendant has a lawyer at arraignments and pre-trial proceedings.
“We’ll know when these initial standards work when the defendants have more trials and more motions and have their case heard in a true fact-based way,” Judge Tom Boyd, a member of the commission, told Michigan Radio. “It would be hard to make an argument that the system today provides defendants with the type of counsel which is guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”
Listen to the full broadcast here.