All Marvin Anderson ever wanted to be was a firefighter. Instead, at 18 years old, he was wrongfully convicted of rape, sodomy, abduction and robbery.
When a Virginia judge sentenced him to 210 years in prison, “my whole body went numb,” Anderson told CNN. “I knew I was going to prison for something I didn’t do.”
It took 15 years behind bars and five years on parole before Anderson was exonerated for his crimes — the result of DNA testing.
“I trusted in the justice system and it failed me,” he said.
Anderson is just one of hundreds of black men who have been convicted of and exonerated for crimes they didn’t commit. A new report from the National Registry of Exonerations, a joint project between the University of California, Irvine; University of Michigan Law School and Michigan State University College of Law, shows that blacks are more likely to be wrongfully convicted than whites and are also likely to spend longer in prison before being exonerated for their crimes. While blacks represent 13% of the US population, they represent a whopping 47% of the 1,900 exonerations in the registry.