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Exonerated Mississippi Man Killed Two Blocks Away From His Home

"America hurts black men in so many ways. Two of the main ways it does that is through the criminal justice system and the utter failure to control guns."

A Mississippi man who spent 12 years in prison--with four of those years in solitary confinement--for a rape and murder he didn't commit was shot and killed just two blocks away from his home, CNN reports.

Cedric Willis was exonerated in 2006 and spent his days as a motivational speaker, encouraging local residents to vote and visiting schools to speak about his experience. So when family and friends learned of his death they were distraught.

"America hurts black men in so many ways. Two of the main ways it does that is through the criminal justice system and the utter failure to control guns," Emily Maw, Willis' attorney with the Innocence Project New Orleans said. "Cedric has been a victim of both and that's particularly tragic."

The Jackson Police Department is investigating the June 24th death as a homicide. However, they have not narrowed down on a person of interest. Willis' mother, Elayne, said police have offered her the bare bones surrounding her son's murder.

"The only thing I know for certain is my son is dead. He left home and he didn't come back," she said. "I don't know what, or why, I don't know anything."

In 1997, Willis was convicted of murder and armed robbery and sentenced to life in prison plus 90 years. The victim said the suspect had a gold tooth and no tattoos, Willis however, had an arm full of tattoos and no gold teeth. He was also reportedly 70 pounds heavier than the person the described.

DNA evidence proved Willis wasn't responsible for the rape, and prosecutors dropped those charges, but they still pursued the second robbery and murder. Willis' DNA results which excluded him from the rape were not told to the jury.

It was years before Willis would get a new trial, but in 2006 a judge found the witness testimony inadmissible and he was released from prison. Elayne described her son as a kindhearted, while Maw said Willis was a
"low-key" guy.

"He was a very low-key guy dealing with an awful lot: the unimaginable wrong and pain he suffered and the difficulty of being a black man in Jackson, Mississippi," Maw says.

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Dylann Roof Stages Reported Hunger Strike After Accusing Prison Staff Of Harassment And Abuse

Dylann Roof reportedly staged a hunger strike in prison  because he says he's being “targeted by staff,” harassed and abused.

The White supremacist mass murderer, who is on death row for killing nine Black parishioners at a historically Black church in Charleston, S.C. in 2015 and is the first person to receive the death penalty for a hate crime, sent a letter to the Associated Press earlier in the month accusing prison staff of mistreatment. Roof also alleges that staff feels justified because he’s “hated by the general public.”

Roof is imprisoned at Terre Haute Federal Prison in Terre, Ind. The 25-year-old killer was attacked by a fellow inmate in 2016. Roof now alleges that he has been the subject of unprovoked harassment and abuse and “treated disproportionately harsh.”

Roof launched the hunger strike after allegedly being mistreated by a Bureau of Prisons disciplinary hearing officer amid previous complaints over being refused access to a copy machine.

Roof’s allegations have yet to be verified. His lawyers are currently appealing his death sentence.

According to his letter to AP, Roof claimed that his hunger strike lasted “several days.” He ended the strike because he passed out after corrections officer tried to “forcibly” take his blood and put an IV in his arm.

“I feel confident I could have gone much, much longer without food,” Roof wrote in the letter. “It’ just not worth being murdered over.”

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Wrongfully Convicted Kansas Man Awarded $1.5 Million After Spending 23 Years In Prison

A Kansas man, who spent more than half of his life in prison for a wrongful conviction, was awarded a $1.5 million settlement on Monday (Feb. 24). Lamonte McIntyre sued the state last year under a newly-implemented wrongful conviction statute.

“Today, Lamonte McIntyre has been declared, finally and conclusively, a completely innocent man. That long-overdue recognition, along with the statutory payment and other benefits will help lighten a bit the heavy load he has carried,” McIntyre’s lawyer, Cheryl A. Pilate, told CNN on Monday.

The settlement includes counseling, access to state-funded healthcare benefits for 2020 and 2021, and a tuition waiver to cover his post-secondary education up to 130 credit hours.

McIntyre was wrongly convicted in the 1994 murders of Donald Ewing and Doniel Quinn. He was just 17 years old at the time and served 8,583 days in prison before being released in 2017 at age 41.

“We are committed to faithfully administering the state’s mistaken-conviction law as the legislature wrote it,” Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in a statement. “In this case, our office worked diligently to obtain and review all available evidence, including evidence identified but not provided in the earlier judicial proceedings. We were ultimately able to resolve all issues, satisfy all of the statute’s requirements, and agree to this outcome so Mr. McIntyre can receive the benefits to which he is entitled by law because of his mistaken conviction.”

McIntyre is the third wrongfully convicted man in Kansas to be awarded a settlement after suing the state under the wrongful conviction law, which was enacted in 2018. Three additional lawsuits remain pending in “various stages of litigation.”

Since his release, the McIntyre has completed barber school and founded Miracle of Innocence, a non-profit organization helping the wrongfully convicted. McIntyre attends Penn Valley Metropolitan Community College where he is pursuing a business degree.

“I feel like a new person, I feel like I’m actually starting my life now,” he told ABC news affiliate KMBC.

See more on McIntyre’s story in the video above.

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The USC Annenberg School For Communication And Journalism Celebrates Commencement at The Shrine Auditorium on May 11, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

USC Will Offer Free Tuition For Students From Families Making Under $80,000

USC announced a new effort to make attending the university affordable to students from middle and low-income families. The school will offer free undergrad tuition for families making less than 80,000 a year, USC president Carol L. Folt announced on Thursday (Feb. 20).

Thanks to the new policies, owning a home will not be counted in calculating the student’s tuition needs.

“We’re opening the door to make a USC education possible for talented students from all walks life,” Folt said in a statement. “This significant step we are taking today is by no means the end of our affordability journey. We are committed to increasing USC’s population of innovators, leaders and creators regardless of their financial circumstances. Investing in the talent and diversity of our student body is essential to our education mission.”

The announcement comes as USC remains embroiled in an admissions scandal that became public last year.

As for the new policy, USC will increase undergraduate aid by $30 million annually which will expand financial aid for more than 4,000 students. The new policies will be implemented for incoming students beginning in the fall of 2020 and the spring of 2021.

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