The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Released and Exonerated after 27 Years

Jan 21, 2019

Clarence Shipley was released and exonerated of all charges on December 18 after being imprisoned for 27 years for a murder he did not commit. A retired detective hired by his family finally got a Baltimore public defender to convince the city state’s attorney to find the critical witnesses to prove his innocence.

Shipley was arrested in 1991 in the middle of the years when drug and violence sentences were inflated across the U.S., leading to an explosion in the number of prisoners. Politicians put police under enormous pressure to make arrests, especially in poor and black neighborhoods. Courts were under great pressure to order long sentences, regardless of whether suspects were innocent or guilty.

Shipley was convicted because a prosecution witness lied in court. A snitch jailed for car thefts told police Shipley had been at the shooting. Shipley wasn’t there, and he said so, but police didn’t research this. He is left handed, and murder witnesses said the shooter was right handed. A witness named the murderer: another man. But police did not investigate. After Shipley’s conviction, the courts repeatedly denied Shipley’s challenges.

Now Shipley becomes the 30th Maryland prisoner since 2000 exonerated by DNA or new testimony due to the work of the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project.

“Free”–after a lifetime of imprisonment, for crimes not committed.