Picking Cotton Analysis

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After reading Picking Cotton by Ronald Cotton and Jennifer Thompson-Cannino in Professor Morton’s class last semester, I became interested in the concept of eyewitness misidentification and bad forensic science leading to wrongful convictions. After further research I chose to take up an internship with the New England Innocence Project for this Spring semester. Since the inception of the first Innocence Project in 1992, 337 people across the United States have been exonerated on the basis of new strides made in forensic science capabilities, this is only a fraction where there have been 1,744 total exonerations between the Innocence Project combined with other groups (University of Michigan). The statistics of why this happens are overwhelming: …show more content…

The community at large expect law enforcement to jump right in and prosecute the case – the “talking’s” around a small town such as this influence law enforcement to act quickly and efficiently. I think this is true of most communities who are trying to be vigilant, similar to Just Mercy, the people of the community want answers and want to believe that law enforcement is doing their job correctly to keep them safe. A community wanting to be safe is a normal thing – however, safe and just should not be contrasting ideals. Communities and families are also involved on the other side of the story – as in Just Mercy, the family and community associated with Walter McMillian rally around him. When someone is accused and convicted everyone close to the story is involved. In regard to both of these men accused and sought after by a community, there is another overwhelming statistic that 88% of those who have been exonerated that were accused and arrested as minors are African American. The University of Michigan also calculates that of all 1,744 exonerations to date, 812 are African American – nearly 50% (University of …show more content…

But, there is much research and funding lacking for those who spent time in prison, but never did the crime in the first place. A current task at my internship is to create a post exoneration questionnaire to seek out those who have bene freed and find out what they would have needed after being released that they did not receive – this includes housing, compensation for time lost, assistance with jobs, assistance with mental health issues, and catching them up to speed with what went on in the world while they were wrongfully behind bars. Those who are wrongfully convicted and exonerated don’t even get a bus ticket or twenty dollars right away – their compensation takes a while to kick in and they are navigating foreign territory. Beyond this, much of their life has changed beyond the prison bars, families have grown and loved ones have moved on, often times their house and possessions are gone. They start a long winding road even outside of prison to get their lives back on track and need their family and community to help. As this topic comes up more and more, I hope that issues such as this come to light so that community can heal and those exonerated can become productive members of society again, as they deserve to

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