By Frederick H. Lowe, BlackmansStreet
Gregory Counts freed after 26 years
The Innocence Project reported in the most recent issue of its magazine that a record nine clients were exonerated and released from prison in 2018 for crimes they didn’t commit.
Maddy deLone, the Innocence Project’s executive director, wrote in Spring 2019 issue of “The Innocence Project in Print” that the nine exonerations were most at one time in Innocence Project’s 26- year history.
Exonerations continued into 2019 with three more men being released from prison for crimes they didn’t commit.
The incarcerations took a problematic toll on the 12 men who were locked behind bars for a total of nearly 300 years. “Time away from their homes, families and loved ones cannot be replaced,” deLone wrote.
Gregory Counts, one of the exonerated said, “I want to jail when I was 19. I did 26 years—over half of my life in jail. I need to see the world.”
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. vacated rape, sodomy and kidnapping charges against Counts after a woman who claimed she was the victim admitted to lying. Semen and other physical evidence eliminated Counts as a suspect.
Malcolm Alexander, another exoneree, said, “freedom is a new life. It’s like being reborn. It’s giving a chance to live a life I had been denied.”
Prison officials locked Alexander behind bars for 38 years for a rape he didn’t commit. A judge sentenced Alexander to life in Angola Prison in Angola, Louisiana, the country’s most-notorious prison and former plantation, when he was 21.
The Innocence Project determined Alexander’s attorney was incompetent.
Genetic testing eventually eliminated him as the rape suspect. He left prison with a smile on his face and his black pet Labrador Retriever named “Innocent.”
In another matter, New York created the first ever state-wide commission to study prosecutorial misconduct, such a failure to disclose or discrimination in jury selection.