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10 Black Men Recently Freed After Decades of False Imprisonment

Charles Chatman

In 1981, after a Dallas woman was reportedly raped in her house, she picked 20-year-old Charles Chatman, who lived down the street from her, out of a lineup.

Soon thereafter, Chatman was charged and convicted of rape and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. He maintained he was an innocent man and said the victim misidentified him as the culprit. He went to the parole board three times but according to sources, was denied every time because he refused to admit guilt to the crime.

However, after years of struggling to get a DNA test, the court finally allowed him to do it in 2007. In 2008, the DNA exculpated him in the rape. Chatman was officially exonerated on February 26, 2008, after spending 27-years in  prison.

As of 2012, Chatman had received $2,417,845 in state compensation.


James Bain

James Bain

In 1974, at the young age of 18, James Bain was arrested and later convicted of breaking and entering, kidnapping, and raping a nine-year-old boy. He was sentenced to life in prison.

The victim told police that his assailant appeared to have been 17 or 18 years old, had a mustache and bushy sideburns and his name was “Jim” or “Jimmy.” The victim’s uncle, who was an assistant principle, thought the description sounded a lot like a student at his school, “Jimmy Bain.”  The boy picked Bain out of a photo lineup that included one other man with bushy sideburns. There were lingering questions about whether detectives steered him.

A jury convicted Bain after rejecting his story that he was home watching TV with his twin sister when the crime was committed, an alibi she repeated at a news conference right before his release.

After spending 35 years in prison, the court agreed to do DNA testing, which proved that Bain couldn’t have committed the rape. The state vacated his sentenced and at 54 years old, he found himself a free man.

Bain spent more time in prison for a crime he did not commit than any other American exonerated through DNA evidence.  Until his conviction, he’d never had more than a few parking tickets.

The state of Florida awarded Bain a paltry $50,000 for each year he was incarcerated, which totaled $1.75 million.



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