A study released on March 7 found that Illinois was the state with the second-highest number of exonerations for criminal convictions in 2016. A separate study by the same researchers looked at criminal cases between 1989 and 2016 and found that African-Americans are disproportionately falsely convicted. According to the study, nearly half of the 1,900 people who were wrongly convicted of crimes, including sexual assault, drug charges, and murder, were African-American. This is three times higher than the proportion of African-Americans in the general population. African-Americans are seven times more likely to face a wrongful murder conviction compared to white Americans and 12 times more likely to be convicted of drug crimes.
The study found that there was a higher amount of official misconduct in cases involving African-Americans. It also attributed the statistics to a variety of factors including institutional discrimination, unconscious bias and racism.
In 2016, the 166 exonerations in the country set a record since 1989. Texas had the highest number of exonerations at 60, and most of those were drug convictions in the county that includes Houston. In the two counties where Houston and Dallas are located, integrity units have been set up by prosecutors to review convictions. In many cases of drug convictions, tests later revealed that substances involved were not illegal.
A person who is facing drug charges , might feel pressured to plea bargain even when evidence has not been fully analyzed. People who find themselves in this position may want to talk to their attorneys about various approaches to defense including ensuring that allegedly controlled substances are tested. Those who are serving sentences for crimes they did not commit may be able to appeal the case.