5/29/13

My Second Fight for Justice

I had to write myself some words of motivation to sustain me in my 2nd fight for freedom. It went: 

Approximately one year ago, the US Supreme would make a decision that would once again turn my life upside down. May 29 2012, I woke up, kissed my wife, got in my car, picked up a co-worker and headed to work. Late in the morning I received a call that changed my life forever.

The call was from my attorney. I smiled at first because we stayed in contact ever since my wrongful conviction was overturned and I was released from prison. I answered the phone quickly, eager to speak to him. He was crying hysterically. I was baffled. My attorney composed himself and all I heard was “without using usual procedures allowing our Legal Team an opportunity to file full legal briefing and oral argument, the U.S. Supreme Court granted the prosecution a late filed Cert petition and Reinstated your conviction Per Curiam (without the signing of any judge) all in one day”. In my mind, I said, you can’t be serious. The US Supreme Court only hears 2% of the cases that comes across their desk. I’m innocent, how did I become part of that 2%. My worst nightmare (being innocent in prison) was once AGAIN my reality.

This decision shattered my wife, family and I, mentally, physically and emotionally.  It shattered the restored faith we had in the justice system.

I had sat in prison for 16 ½ years before the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals saw my innocence, vacated my life sentence and barred the prosecution from re-trying me. In January 2012 I was released and rejoined my family and quickly settling back into society as a husband, father, son, brother and a friend to many. I started working and taking care of my family, speaking at Wrongful Conviction events. I spoke at local Community Centers to the troubled youth and at Law Schools. All of this and more took place during my 4 1/2 months of freedom. My family bond was strengthened and our healing process from that 16 1/2 year nightmare started, but only to be short lived.

On
 June 14, 2012 I woke up and gave my wife my last hug and kiss as a free man. I met up with my friend and fellow exoneree Jeffrey Deskovic who drove me from New York to Pennsylvania. I was very emotional knowing my destination and what awaited me. At 2pm, we arrived at SCI CAMP HILL and I turned myself in. The guards collected their wagers placed with one another over whether I would show up or not. I was quickly processed and once again I was Innocent but Wearing Guilty Clothes.

I was immediately placed in solitary confinement for no reason. For 2 months I was locked down 23 hours a day and 24 hours on the weekend. For a minute, I fell into a deep slump reliving my past 16 1/2 years.

I had to write myself some words of motivation to sustain me in my 2nd fight for freedom. It went:

“The ground under me quickly escaped me, and I landed on my back. I’m dusting myself off from this blow that was just delivered to me. Let me get back up and get back into this fight before the referee (Injustice) counts me out. I’ve been here before (for 16 ½ years). I know and have what it takes to win. I have Faith, Love, Determination, Heart of a Lion and a Support Team like no other, but most importantly, I have the TRUTH. So Rumble Young Man, Rumble.”

These words help me a lot. Injustices come in many different forms and have different faces. There are many Lorenzo Johnson’s. Amanda Knox’s innocence came out on October 3, 2011 and mine on October 4, 2011. We both shared the same issue that demanded our release but both our cases were later overturned. My case was quickly swept under the rug while Amanda Knox’s case has garnered global attention.

I’m calling on everyone who’s against INNOCENT people being in prison to join me in my Crusade for Justice.

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