Lawmakers Vote to Pardon the Scottsboro Boys
“This is great for Alabama. It was long overdue,” said Democratic state Rep. Laura Hall of Huntsville, who sponsored the bill in the House.
The Senate sponsor, Republican Arthur Orr, said it was unfortunate that the pardons are coming after all the Scottsboro Boys have died – but the bill lets Alabama write a “better final chapter.”
“Their lives were ruined by the convictions,” he said. “By doing this, it sends a very positive message nationally and internationally that this is a different state than we were many years ago.”
All but the youngest member of the group, whose ages ranged from 13 to 19, were imprisoned on death row after convictions by all-white juries. All were eventually freed without executions, although several suffered for many years in prison.
The last of the men died in 1989.
Their celebrated case has been memorialized in songs, books, museums, films and a 2010 Broadway play. Their twisting legal saga set important precedents, including Supreme Court decisions outlawing the practice of systematically excluding black people from juries and guaranteeing the right to effective counsel.