Thursday, November 10, 2016
Aidan Glynn '17
On November 3, 2016 the longest serving innocent man in United States history, Ricky Jackson, visited Siena College to share his story. Jackson lost nearly four decades of his life after being wrongfully convicted of murder in 1975 in Ohio.
He was eighteen when he and two of his childhood friends were accused of murder. There was no hard evidence in their case to put Jackson or his friends at the scene of the crime. All that was shown was the testimony of a young thirteen-year-old boy, whom he believes was coerced by the authorities, trying to find an easy way to wrap up the case. Jackson was ultimately sentenced to death by electric chair, for a crime he knew nothing about, during the prime of his life.
“The best thing I can equate death row to is a dog kennel where all of the dogs are being prepared to be euthanized, and they are left without any hope,” said Jackson.
Eventually, his sentence was changed to life in prison, and he despondently spent year after year locked in a cell. Finally, in 2013, the man who had testified against him when he was thirteen finally recanted his story. It then took another year for Jackson to finally be released back out into the free world, and finally he began his free adult life at the age of 57.
Upon his release, the court system in Ohio decided to award Jackson compensation for his time spent behind bars.
“How do you put a price on lost experiences? Lost memories of not being able to grow up with your siblings, or getting to know and thank your mother for everything she did.”
Jackson is now enjoying a life of freedom, and recently got engaged. He is no longer bitter about any of the transgressions that occurred to him, and even met the man who had testified against him, to forgive him for what had happened. He does not spend his time protesting the court system that wronged him, instead he is simply trying to live his life to the fullest, and move on from his time wrongfully imprisoned.
“It’s time for good people to step up and try to change the system. Because you never know, what happened to me could happen to anyone, but you young people are the future who can do good, and enact justice where there is injustice in the world.”
This event was co-sponsored by: The Sociology Department, The Office of Academic Affairs, The School of Liberal Arts, Multicultural Studies and the Diversity Action Committee.