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MLK Day Walk for Justice remembers the wrongfully incarcerated

“One in every 25 people that’s currently on death row is likely innocent,” John Hollway explained.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — One of the events planned for Monday was the MLK Day Walk for Justice. The goal was to bring awareness to those who have been wrongfully incarcerated.

Aisha Hampton was handing out signs and t-shirts on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to raise awareness for the wrongfully incarcerated, which she says includes her cousin.

“We’re just here today to acknowledge and share the awareness with the world that people are suffering, inmates are suffering, innocent people that are inmates are suffering and their story needs to be told,” Hampton said.

It's a cause that is personal to her because she says her cousin Carlos Harris was wrongfully incarcerated. She explained why she chose MLK Day for the event.

"Martin Luther King, as you know, was a civil rights leader," Hampton said. "He was a voice for those who had no voice back in the 60s, and so we feel like inmates' rights are their own civil rights as well. This is just as important as fighting for the right to vote."

She explained why she feels now is the time.

“This is not something that can be overlooked any longer within the system. Our judicial system needs to be reviewed,” she said.

John Hollway is an Associate Dean at the University of Pennsylvania and the executive director of the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice. He’s one of the people helping review the system.

“You’ve got 2,937 convictions nationwide and that’s more than 25,000 years of lifetimes lost for crimes that people did not commit,” Hollway said.

His organization uses data to help jurisdictions across the country revise the criminal justice system.

“The question really is, what are we doing to make it better? And are we doing enough? That’s why I think things like a march on MLK Day to raise awareness for this is really, really important,” Hollway said.

He said the error rate in the criminal justice system is higher than most people would likely be comfortable with.

“One in every 25 people that’s currently on death row is likely innocent,” Hollway said.

He said when awareness about this is raised, everyone benefits.

“One of the things that we’re seeing for example is prosecutors around the country are creating departments within their offices called 'conviction integrity units,' and those units are being tasked with identifying cases where we may have gotten it wrong in the past and trying to fix those cases," Hollway said. 

"But increasingly those are becoming quality improvement centers, if you will, within prosecutor’s offices that will help police and prosecutors, but also help defense attorneys and judges, improve their practices so that we can prevent the next wrongful conviction from happening,” he added.

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