Exonerated Midlands Man Speaks About Wrongful Convictions

 COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO)-  A problem that is facing the criminal justice system continues to grow in America, wrongful convictions.
A Midlands man who was exonerated spoke on a panel at a community forum on Monday that emphasized wrongful conventions.
“I felt really hurt, and disappointed by the criminal justice system,” Lenell Geter, who was wrongfully convicted said.

“Wrongful convictions tend to impact impoverished people, that would be my first category,” Attorney, Diana Holt said.  “Then of course people of color are most targeted.”

Geter’s arrest happened in the early 80’s when he moved to Texas. That’s where Geter says he was profiled at a park. Shortly after that he was sentenced to life in prison for an armed robbery he didn’t commit.

“An elderly woman said there is a colored man that sits in the park without a state tag, you might want to check him out,” Geter said.

Although several of his coworkers vouched for him, Geter still was arrested. His colleagues testified that he was at work during the KFC armed robbery, that was 50 miles away, he was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

“I felt really terrified and dejected because I was thrown into the criminal justice system and had never been incarcerated before,” Geter said.

Geter’s story is a story-line thousands of Americans know all too well. According to the National Registry of Exoneration’s nearly 2,000 people have been exonerated in the United states since 1989.

“Wrongful convictions are at the apex of the judicial system,” Holt said.

Geter said that’s why forums like Wrongful Convictions at the Richland Library are needed, to push the conversation on social justice.

“What happened to me can happen to someone’s child as well as anybody,” Geter said. “Injustice has no color.”

Now Geter and other panelist help inform and motivate others that their is hope.

“Don’t give up, don’t quit,” Holt said.  “Don’t bend, don’t break.”

“What happens to a person does shape the individual,” Geter said. “I was a shy person but now here I am now speaking in front of the public with a message that can affect everybody.”

Holt said more people are being exonerated because of growing prevalence of DNA testing.

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