It Took 70 Years For This 14 Year Old To Be Proven Innocent

Courts, General Interest, News, Race and Ethnicity

In 1944, it only took an all-white jury 10 minutes to convict 14-year-old George Stinney Jr. but it has taken a full 70 years since he was convicted and executed for him to finally be exonerated of crimes that he never committed.

In the wake of this exoneration, some community activists asked: How long will it take for the names of John Crawford III, Tamir Rice, and so many countless others to be cleared?

Now that the key “witness” who the Officer Darren Wilson decision was based on has been widely-acknowledged as a pathological liar, and a racist some are suggesting that somethings have not changed as much as we might like to think in America.

Back in 1944, George Stinney Jr. was executed at age 14 for supposedly killing two young Caucasians. But even though the African American community in South Carolina knew that he was innocent all along, the American justice system has finally caught up with what was obvious even back then.

Now Stinney Jr. has been exonerated in South Carolina, a full 70 years after he became the youngest person ever to be executed in the United States in the 20th century.

In the recent exoneration, a judge ruled that Stinney was clearly denied due process.

“I think it’s long overdue,” Stinney’s sister, Katherine Stinney Robinson, who is 80-years-old now, said to a local newspaper The Manning Times. “I’m just thrilled because it’s overdue.”

Circuit Judge Carmen Mullen found that “fundamental, Constitutional violations of due process exist in the 1944 prosecution of George Stinney, Jr., and hereby vacates the judgment.”

The case was brought for review by Katherine and two of her surviving siblings.

Matt Burgess, one of the attorneys for the Stinney family, told NPR that, “There were no African-American people in that courthouse. It was a jury of 12 white men. Everyone in that courthouse was white.”

Stinney’s family has consistently maintained the reasonable argument that Stinney was far too small to be able to carry out the crimes he was accused of.

It is worth noting that this is not a pardon. “There’s a difference: A pardon is forgiving someone for something they did,” Norma Robinson, George Stinney’s niece, explained.

“That wasn’t an option for my mother, my aunt or my uncle. We weren’t asking forgiveness,” instead they were demanding full exoneration for crimes that Stinney never committed.

“His executioners noted the electric chair straps didn’t fit him, and an electrode was too big for his leg,” The State newspaper noted, adding that “it took Mullen nearly four times as long to issue her ruling as it took in 1944 to go from arrest to execution.”

A few recent examples of police shootings and injustice are here, here, and here.

Given the widespread use of police brutality and police shootings of unarmed black people, have we really come that far from the attitudes and justifications of the Jim Crow Era?

(Article By Jeremiah Jones)

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