Wrongful Conviction Rally: "There Are Many Scarcellas Out There"
"Twenty-four years," one woman said to the other, as they stood in the security line to enter the city hall premises.
Photo by Albert Samaha
"Wow," replied the second woman.
"How about yours?"
"That's a long time."
The women were here for a rally about wrongful convictions. Seconds later they walked to city hall's steps to join dozens of exonerated men and the family members of current inmates who claim to be innocent.
The participants--more than 50 of them--filled the steps to the top. There were children and old women, middle-age men and young ladies. Some were Hispanic, some were black, some were white. Some wore black hats that read "Wrongfully Convicted" on the front. Others wore t-shirts that listed names of inmates fighting in the courts to be released.
They held signs like "Free the Innocent" and "Parole is Not for the Innocent" and "Justice Delayed is Justice Denied" and "Corrupt Scarcella." Many more signs listed names. And in-between speeches--by lawyers, by politicians, by the exonerated, by the relatives of the incarcerated--people shouted those names.
"Free Ricky Caldwell!"
"Free Michael Jones!"
"Free Lorenzo Johnson!"
"Free Nelson Cruz!"
About a dozen television cameras captured those shouts, and a dense row of reporters heard a long string of tragically similar stories. Men who spent two decades in prison before winning their freedom. Wives, brothers, and cousins detailing the cases that keep their loved ones behind bars.