In 2019, the United States has the highest imprisonment rate in the world and Louisiana and Mississippi have some of the highest imprisonment rates in the United States. When we ask why wrongful convictions happen, this must be the context in which we ask the question. We are a nation, and region, that has steadily climbed over forty years to imprisoning a higher proportion of its citizens than any nation in modern history.
The United States is unique in the world for the extreme rate at which its ‘racial minority’ (Black people) is disproportionately imprisoned. Louisiana is at the epicenter of this phenomenon.
Of the 36 people that IPNO has freed or exonerated to date, 35 were young Black men when they were arrested and they were each given trials that lasted less than a day before being imprisoned for the rest of their life for crimes they did not commit.
There is no single “cause” of wrongful conviction that is independent of this back drop.