When people watch the news on their television, there would most likely be moments wherein suspects on a crime doesn’t get caught, it could be very difficult to watch since justice must be served to everyone who deserves it. Then again, what hurts the most is that if people find out that innocent ones get wrongly convicted, most especially if it is a friend or a family member. It has got to be the most unfair thing anyone could possibly experience.
#REMARKABLE: Three @Georgetown students help free a man who was in jail for more than 26 yrs for a murder he didn't commit. I sat down with one of those students today. "It's really hard to describe how it felt seeing him released…"
Pic courtesy of @#GeorgetownUniversity pic.twitter.com/84a65h3x8f
— Amy Aubert (@ABC7AmyAubert) September 21, 2018
They say that justice is for everyone but sometimes, these things happen. Just like this man who has been in jail for more than 27 years for being punished for a crime he never committed. If it wasn’t for these students, he would still be locked up.
Students Help Free An Innocent Man
A few days ago, a man named Valentino Dixon walked out of the Erie County Hall in New York for the first time in more than two decades. It was in 1991 when he was wrongly convicted of murder, when he walked out to gain the freedom he has always deserved, family and friends started cheering for him. Dixon even said that he could not describe how it felt but for him, it is the greatest feeling in the entire world.
All of this wouldn’t be possible without three Georgetown University students, Ellie Goonetillake, Julie Fraginas, and Naoya Johnson. They worked on his case for their “Prison Reform Project”, which is part of their course. This project was actually given by their course professor Marc Howard, who is actually the director of Georgetown’s Prisons and Justice Initiative, together with his childhood friend, Marty Tankleff. It turns out that this is actually very personal and special for them because Tankleff suffered from the same faith by being wrongly imprisoned, just like Dixon.
The three students had to re-examine the 1991 case of second-degree murder that was put on Dixon in Erie County, New York. They even had to do their own interview on the witnesses. The three students also found out that the prosecutors actually never showed Dixon’s lawyer at that time, that all of the tests from the gunpowder were negative, which means it clearly wasn’t his hands. This is actually considered to be such a huge violation when it comes to trial procedures.
Goonitillake, Fraginas, and Johnson, had to work on this investigation process for days. Fragonas even stated that she would not be convinced that he would be released unless she actually sees it with her own eyes. Which is the main reason why they wanted to watch the judge say the decision and that they want Dixon to come out of the courtroom as a free man.
Dixon eventually did after more than two decades of being wrongly imprisoned. He was actually sentenced to spend 38 years locked up even if another man has actually admitted the truth. However, it was revealed that Dixon may not have been the one to pull the trigger and killed someone, but he wasn’t actually innocent at all. According to Attorney John Flynn, Dixon, may be an up and coming drug lord of Buffalo, New York. Turns out that the gun that was used was actually Dixon’s, he brought the gun to the fight, so he may be innocent of what he was accused of, it doesn’t mean that he is actually innocent at all cost.
This is a problem that the society is suffering from all across the globe. In the United States alone, the number of exonerations continue to rise, in fact, it was in 2015 when the highest number of cases of wrongful conviction has been recorded.
Adjunct professor Tankleff revealed that he knows what Dixon felt like when he got out, it indeed is the best feeling in the world. That is because it would seem that the darkest days are over and that over there are actually people who are fighting for people like them, who are victims of injustice. Being able to help people bring the true justice can definitely be a life-changing experience.
The three students who helped Dixon are now the only ones who are doing the same project, in fact, there are four more cases similar to this that will be handled in the next semester. So that would mean that there is a great chance that more innocent people will have the freedom they have always deserved.