MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. (WXYZ) — Freeing the innocent. After decades in prison, some finally get justice and freedom. That’s the work done by Conviction Integrity Units.
Macomb County joins other prosecutors in Wayne, Washtenaw, and the Michigan Attorney General’s Office. Oakland County is also in the process.
Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido has appointed retired attorney Gail Pamukov for the job.
She tells 7 Action News, the cases require a lot of work including, “a pretty exhaustive review of all the pleadings, all the transcripts both on the state side, federal side and it may involve further investigation.”
At the news conference, several exonerated men convicted of murder, armed robbery, and other crimes spoke out so that others may get justice. It is estimated as many as 10% of men and women behind bars are innocent. They are put there by lying witnesses, lying jailhouse snitches, and dirty cops.
“I had to fight for my life to get out of there,” says Aaron Salter who did 15 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit.
He says a dirty cop overstated the position of an eyewitness saying, “he wrote it down like he was sure that I was the guy. And this means something, and you know it.”
Bill Proctor is a retired 7 Action News Investigator who works with the University of Michigan Innocence Clinic and says this is a widespread problem, “This jailhouse snitch thing in Wayne County, in particular, is the biggest criminal activity on the planet where the police have spoken to somebody on the inside who says help me. I'll help you.”
Proctor worked on the case of Eric Anderson who did 9 years in prison for an armed robbery he didn’t do. Anderson was implicated after being shot in a fight at a completely different location.
Proctor says, “They take him, unfortunately, to the hospital where the other robbery victim is and the robbery victim looks across the emergency room and says he did it. That's how ludicrous so many of these cases are.”
Some guys out of prison have supporters with them.
Others are still alone including Aaron Salter who says, “I’m 39-years-old. It completely destroyed my relationship with my family.”
The wife of Ramon Ward went to law school because of her husband’s case. Ward did 26 years behind bars for a murder he didn’t commit.
Roeiah Epps-Ward says there are likely many other innocent people who need justice adding, “Statistically disparaging impacts to blacks and minorities far more underserved, underprivileged, people that are poor, socially disenfranchised.”
Prosecutor Lucido says he’ll be working with the Legislature to make sure there are laws in all crimes that allow them to prosecute the lying snitches and dirty cops.
While in the Legislature, Lucido worked to get the state to pay exonerated inmates $50,000 a year for each year they were locked up.