Two thousand, four hundred thirty-three prisoners. A total of 21,290 years lost.
According to the National Registry of Exonerations, that’s how many people nationwide have been sentenced for a crime they didn’t commit, then later found innocent. Last year alone, there 151 exonerations nationwide and six in California.
Chesa Boudin, a candidate for SF district attorney, says “One exoneration is too many.” He is offering a plan to change those numbers.
My name is Jamal Trulove, and I was wrongfully convicted of a murder that I did not commit because of police and prosecutorial misconduct. I am writing to tell my story because it is important that people understand the devastation of what happened to me and how the San Francisco district attorney’s office needs to adopt reforms to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.
The case against me, based on a 2007 shooting in the Sunnydale public housing project, turned on the testimony of a single purported eyewitness. In fact, she didn’t see me do anything. But the jury never knew the truth: that on the night of the murder, the police showed her a single photograph of me, asked her to name me as the shooter, and she did not. The police buried that evidence and the fact that they pressured the woman until she told them, with some uncertainty, what they wanted to hear.
Jacobin’s Meagan Day spoke to Boudin about his vision for criminal justice reform, how his family history and childhood experiences shaped his political worldview, and the role of democracy in building a mass movement to end economic and racial inequality.
For more than six years, Jamal Trulove was locked up for a killing that he says he did not commit.
The former reality TV show contestant was convicted of murder in 2010 for the slaying of his friend at the Sunnydale housing projects. The case hinged on a witness who, his lawyers later showed, falsely identified him as the shooter.
But Trulove was not able to prove his innocence until 2015 when, after successfully appealing his conviction and facing a second round of charges in connection with the same killing, a jury acquitted him of murder.
Trulove has since settled a lawsuit with San Francisco for $13.1 million after another jury found that police had framed him.
On Tuesday, district attorney candidate Chesa Boudin used the case as an example of the wrongs that could be prevented if prosecutors had a unit focused solely on investigating “credible claims of innocence.”
My freshman year at Yale I got a letter from my biological father with unwelcome news. He had a new neighbor, my childhood friend Lorenzo.
They were on the same cell block in maximum-security prison. Lorenzo’s imprisonment felt like fate. We came from different worlds: He was poor, black and an immigrant, while I was upper middle class, white and U.S.-born. As a black man, he had a 1 in 3 chance of serving time at some point in his life. What we had in common, however, was a significant risk factor for incarceration: Lorenzo and I became friends over many years of visiting our mothers behind bars. For him the odds played out.
By Paula Lehman-Ewing
The five candidates in this year's San Francisco district attorney election agree on a couple things: The moment is unique and the system is broken.
Their opinions on why the moment is unique and how to fix the criminal justice system in their city is where their unity begins to fracture.
When San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón announced in October — more than a year before the election — that he wouldn’t run for re-election in 2019, he started an early rush for the job.
So far, five candidates are in, and Gascón’s decision removed one big obstacle from the race. San Francisco’s Nov. 5 election will be the first time in more than a century without a sitting district attorney in the race — not since William Langdon bowed out in 1909 has the city had an open field in the contest for top prosecutor.