Analysis: What postwar racial paranoia tells us about criminal justice in the US today

A version of this story appeared in CNN’s Race Deconstructed newsletter. 

The list of Black Americans who have recently been cleared of crimes they didn’t commit is long.
Last week, a Tennessee judge exonerated 74-year-old Joyce Watkins, who had been wrongfully convicted of murdering her 4-year-old great-niece and spent nearly 30 years in prison.
In 1988, Watkins and her then-boyfriend, Charlie Dunn, were convicted of first-degree murder and aggravated rape, based on medical evidence that was later shown to be false. They spent 27 years behind bars before they were granted parole in 2015.
Dunn, who died suddenly in jail while he was waiting for his parole hearing, was posthumously exonerated.
Kevin Strickland, 62, was exonerated of murder last November after serving 43 years in prison. That same month, Anthony Broadwater, 61, who spent more than 16 years behind bars for a rape he didn’t commit, was exonerated.
Together, these cases shine a light on a familiar yet no less sobering reality: The criminal justice system subjects Black Americans to decidedly unequal treatment. Continue Reading



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