Juneal Pratt

At age 19, Juneal Pratt was arrested for a purse snatching in Omaha, Nebraska. Detectives believed Mr. Pratt’s previous run-ins with the law rendered him suspect for the rape, sodomy, and robbery of two Iowa sisters at an Omaha motel in August of 1975.

At a 3-person police lineup that violated almost all of the Department of Justice lineup guidelines, the victims picked Mr. Pratt as the perpetrator.

A short two months later, despite several witnesses claiming that he was home at the time of the attacks, Mr. Pratt was convicted and sentenced to 32-90 years. While in jail, he earned additional time for two escape attempts.

For decades, Mr. Pratt unsuccessfully appealed his conviction, including attempts to utilize new technology to re-test DNA evidence. Each test corroborated Mr. Pratt’s alibi that he was not at the crime scene, but the degraded DNA evidence failed to provide cause for a new trial or exoneration.  And, despite studies proving the inaccuracy of cross-racial identifications, officials losing the rape kit, and fingerprints from the crime scene not matching Mr. Pratt’s, he ultimately spent 42 years behind bars.

From the day of his arrest, Mr. Pratt consistently maintained his innocence, and though he’d been eligible for parole since 2001, was denied, in part, because he was unwilling to admit to committing the crime.

Mr. Pratt was even denied consideration for a commutation hearing on the grounds that he had not completed a sex offender treatment program. While Mr. Pratt had completed 23 of the 24-month program, he did not return to the program after being assaulted with a padlock on a belt. Overlooking the fact that Mr. Pratt’s fear of another assault deterred him from completing his last month of the program, the Pardons Board voted unanimously to deny him the hearing.

On April 27, 2017, after spending 15,236 days, nearly 42 years of his life, behind bars, the Nebraska Parole Board granted Mr. Pratt parole. Though free, Mr. Pratt remains legally guilty of a crime he did not commit.

 

Stay up to date by visiting Juneal’s Facebook page, Justice for Juneal Pratt.

Read about the Nebraska Innocence Project’s role in Mr. Pratt’s case.

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