The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles granted posthumous pardons to three of the famous "Scottsboro Boys" on Thursday. Haywood Patterson, Charlie Weems and Andy Wright are the last of the nine black men falsely accused of rape in 1931 to have their convictions cleared.
The nine men, all teenagers at the time, were accused of raping two white women on a train in 1931. All of the men served jail time after being swiftly convicted by an all-white jury, and all but Roy Wright (who was just 13) were sentenced to death. Wright's first trial ended with a hung jury, with 11 jurors voting for the death sentence and one voting for life in prison. Shortly after the first round of trials — which would become one of many in the case — one of the two accusers recanted her story.
The U.S. Supreme Court overturned guilty verdicts against the men in Alabama, twice. The first decision, Powell v. Alabama, found that the defendants were denied a right to counsel. After a lower court tried and convicted the men again, the Supreme Court heard Norris v. Alabama, and determined that the men were denied equal protection by the exclusion of blacks on the jury. During a third round of trials, five of those convictions were overturned in 1937, with four remaining on the records.