Black men receive very long prison terms for not committing a crime

Three Black men have been recently released from prison within weeks of each other after serving very long sentences based on police lies, prosecutorial misconduct, and inaccurate witness identification that destroyed decades of their lives.

The men are Lee Harris, Sidney Holmes, and Lamar Johnson. 

Johnson, 50, walked out of St. Louis court after spending 28 years in prison after being accused and convicted of murdering Marcus Boyd in 1994. Judge David Mason released Johnson on February 15.

Boyd was shot to death by two masked men on Johnson’s front porch.  

Judge Mason made the ruling after being convinced by two witnesses that Johnson was not the shooter. 

Last year, Kim Gardener, the Circuit Attorney for St. Louis, filed a motion after collaborating with the Innocence Project seeking Johnson’s release.

Andrew Bailey, the Missouri Attorney General, said he would no longer take further action on the case; however, he pushed to keep Johnson in prison.

In another case, Holmes, 57, was sentenced to 400 years in prison after being convicted in 1988 for a carjacking near Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 

Holmes spent 34 years in prison after being released because there was no evidence tying him to the crime. 

In 2020, he contacted the Broward State’s Attorney’s Office Conviction Review Unit and the Innocence Project of Florida and they found fault with the witness identification process. 

Prosecutors had asked for 825 years in prison since he had been arrested before. But the judge said it was excessive. He gave him 400 years.

Recently, Lee Harris was convicted of murder in 1992 in the death of Dana Feitler. She was shot and killed in 1989 in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood after taking out $400 from an ATM.

Harris, a police informant, said he was tortured and forced to confess by the lead detective in the case. 

Harris spent 30 years in prison after prosecutors said there was not enough evidence to retry him. 

He was finally released from Statesville Prison in Crest Hill on Wednesday, where he was greeted by family members and his attorneys. 

Harris always maintained that he never seen or met Dana Feitler. The lead detective in the case has retired and could not be reached for comment.