April 11, 2013

The “Scottsboro Boys” were a group of nine black teens, ages 13 to 19, who were wrongfully convicted of rape more than 80 years ago in Alabama.During the Great Depression, many would sneak on board of freight trains for a free ride through the state.While on the train, fights would occur between blacks and whites.Two white women made false rape accusations in the hopes of avoiding arrest.Nine black boys were arrested.Lynch mobs attempted to get to the boys while they were in jail, but the mobs were held off by the National Guard.The boys faced trial with virtually no legal representation.An all white juries condemned all but the youngest to death row.They spent many years in prison before the at least one of the women recanted her testimony, and they were freed.

 

Following their trials, many important precedents were set, including the Supreme Court decision which outlawed the practice of systematically excluding black people to juries and the guarantee to the right of effective counsel. Now, over 80 years later, the Scottsboro Boys are, once again, helping to create groundbreaking legislation. Alabama has recently passed legislation which would allow them to posthumously pardon individuals.The House and the Senate unanimously voted to pass the legislation, which the governor has indicated that he will sign it.All are happy with the new measures, although saddened that none of the boys are alive to witness these events.The last of the Scottsboro Boys died in 1989.

 

Once the bill is signed by the governor, a petition would be filed for each man and the parole board would decide whether to grant each pardon.

 

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