One of the most horrifying things a man can face is the possibility to being imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. Yet, this happens with more frequency in the U.S. than we want to admit.
Too many innocent people end up in prison in America. This story is about one of them: Ricky Jackson. He was charged and convicted of murder in 1975 based on the testimony of a 12-year-old boy who said “he thinks he saw a man who looks like Ricky in the area of the crime.” Despite the lack of physical evidence, Jackson was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.
Four decades later, with the help of the Ohio Innocence Project, he was found wrongfully convicted. A judge overturned Jackson’s murder charge after the 12-year-old boy’s testimony was found to be a lie.
Jackson exits the courthouse to freedom. Photo: Provided
The Innocence Project is a nationwide network that has been uncovering evidence of a disturbing prevalence of wrongful convictions in U.S. courts, particularly in capital cases.
Jackson is received by family member. Photo: provided
In the most comprehensive study of U.S. death-penalty cases to date, released two years ago, criminologists and lawyers at Columbia University found that “two out of every three capital sentences they reviewed were overturned on appeal due inappropriate prosecutorial conduct at trial. The findings included the presence of incompetent defense, exculpatory evidence suppressed by police and prosecutors, misinformed jurors, and biased judges.”
While it’s not too late for Mr. Jackson to enjoy life as a free man, he espent 39 years for a crime he didn’t commit. The video below shows his emotional reaction after being released:
While Ricky may be one of a kind, his circumstance absolutely is not. The increasing use of DNA evidence to overturn guilty verdicts has brought a much higher visibility to the potential number of actually innocent prisoners who are incarcerated. Since forensic DNA testing became possible in the late 1980s, nearly 1,500 innocent people have been exonerated, according to the National Registry of Exonerations.