“Almost 40 years gone…”

In the years most of us spend growing, learning, making a home, making a family, Rickey Jackson was serving time in a 6’x8’ cell for a crime he did not commit.

Rickey Jackson's name is spelled 'Ricky Jackson' in the corresponding court case documents and publications related to his release.

Rickey Jackson is the embodiment of resilience. “It was important for me to...try to maintain the sense of the person I was on day one when I first got arrested.” His contributions during years incarcerated exemplified this: Rickey became an avid reader, mentored young inmates, earned his horticulturist license and taught First Aid classes. He refused to let lost time be a lost opportunity.

“When the judge made his ruling, I just looked up to the sky and said, ‘About time.’”

At the time of his release, Rickey Jackson was the longest-serving exoneree in U.S. history. Rickey is not alone in his experience of injustice. Untold numbers have suffered within our criminal justice system—a system based largely on systemic inequalities.

Innocence Network

79% of Innocence Network exonerees arrested for crimes that occurred when they were minors are people of color.

National Registry of Exonerations

African-Americans wrongfully convicted of murder spend nearly three years longer in prison before exoneration and release than their white counterparts.

“It was a struggle everyday to maintain being Rickey Jackson.”

Rickey maintained his innocence during his years of incarceration, eventually securing representation through the Ohio Innocence Project. A chance recantation led to Rickey’s exoneration and release, but chance should not have been his only hope. While studies estimate that 4.1% of all death-sentenced inmates are innocent, between 1973 and 2016, only 1.6% of individuals sentenced to death were exonerated.

Despite scientific advancements that help defendants prove their innocence categorically, systemic issues like racial profiling, wealth inequality and deficiencies in police training continue to prevent justice for people like Rickey. For example, African-Americans account for 13% of the U.S. population, but make up 34% of the 6.8 million correctional population and 42% percent of those on death row.

“Making memories is so important to me. Just like, being in the moment.”

Rickey seized his opportunity to build a new life. His settlement from the state of Ohio provided one form of stability, but he also found love, got married, started a business, and helps raise three step-children.

For additional information on wrongful conviction, Rickey Jackson & our partners, see below:

The National Registry of Exonerations

Innocence Project

The Marshall Project

Ohio Innocence Project at Cincinnati Law


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