America is finally facing up to injustice

In the last three decades, nearly 3000 prisoners in the US have had their convictions overturned. That may be the tip of the innocence iceberg.

Muhammad A Aziz, centre, was exonerated of the 1965 murder of Malcolm X (Image: AP/Seth Wenig)

Two men, Khalil Islam and Muhammad A Aziz (formerly Thomas 15X Johnson and Norman 3X Butler), had their murder convictions overturned last week. Islam did not live to see his exoneration. Aziz is now 83 years old. Both men spent two decades incarcerated for a crime they did not commit.

Such injustice is all too common in America. The only noteworthy distinction in this case was the man whom they were accused of killing — Malcolm X. Malcolm X was assassinated in front of a packed audience in New York’s Audubon Ballroom in February 1965. Three gunmen participated in the attack. One assassin, Talmadge X Hayer, was caught at the scene. His accomplices escaped.

The police soon arrested two suspects, Johnson and Butler, despite lacking any physical evidence linking them to the crime or to their co-defendant. Hayer confessed his role, but swore that Butler and Johnson were innocent. Police and prosecutors refused to believe him. Despite having alibis, both men were found guilty of first-degree murder based on flawed witness testimony, and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Learn more about America’s shameful numbers of wrongful incarceration…

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