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Alabama pardons Scottsboro Boys

9 falsely accused black men 'victims of racial prejudice'

Alabama's parole board wrote a new ending for the infamous "Scottsboro Boys" rape case on Thursday by approving posthumous pardons - more than 80 years after the arrests.

The board handed down a unanimous decision during a hearing in Montgomery over three black men whose convictions were never overturned in a case that came to symbolise racial injustice in the deep south of the US in the 1930s.

"Today, the Scottsboro Boys have finally received justice," Governor Robert Bentley said.

Nine black men were falsely accused of raping two white women on a train in north-east Alabama in 1931.

They were convicted by all-white juries and all but the youngest defendant were sentenced to death.

The state senator who fought through a law to permit posthumous pardons said the Scottsboro Boys' lives had been ruined by a justice system that ignored evidence and it was time to right a wrong.

"It is a reminder of how far we have come since those regretful days in our past," said Senator Arthur Orr.

Shelia Washington, the founder of the Scottsboro Boys Museum, said the pardons "give the history books a new ending - not guilty."

The case inspired songs, books and films. A Broadway musical was staged in 2010 - the same year the museum opened in Scottsboro.

Five of the men's convictions were overturned in 1937 after one of the alleged victims recanted her story.

One defendant, Clarence Norris, received a pardon before he died in 1976.

Nothing was done for the others at the time because state law did not permit posthumous pardons.

But in April the Alabama legislature passed Mr Orr's Bill to allow them in cases where convictions involved racial discrimination.

The three Scottsboro Boys considered by the parole board on Thursday were Haywood Patterson, Charles Weems and Andy Wright.

The board said the other five - Olen Montgomery, Ozie Powell, Willie Roberson, Eugene Williams and Roy Wright - weren't eligible under the new law because their convictions had been overturned on appeal.


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