The Office of Multicultural Affairs and TUCP Direction are honored to present a discussion with Kevin Richardson and Raymond Santana of The Exonerated Five, moderated by Alanah Odoms Hebert.
On the night of April 19, 1989, a young woman was brutally attacked and raped in Central Park, recovering with no memory of the assault. Five boys between 14 and 16 years of age, including Richardson and Santana, were tried and convicted of the crime in a frenzied case that rocked the city. They become known collectively as "The Central Park Five." Despite there being no DNA and little evidence connecting the five teens to the crime, they were charged and sentenced to serve 5 to 10 years in jail. On December 19, 2002, the convictions of the five men were overturned. The unidentified DNA in the Central Park Jogger Case - unlinked to any of the five - had finally met its owner, a convicted murderer and serial rapist who confessed. Santana spent five years in prison and Richardson spent seven, both men serving time for crimes they did not commit.
Now known as "The Exonerated Five," the group has been committed to advocating and educating people on the disparities in America's criminal justice system. The investigation of this conviction has raised questions regarding police coercion and false confessions, as well as the vulnerability of juveniles during police interrogations. Santana tweeted award-winning director Ava DuVernay about the story of the Central Park Five, which led to it becoming the subject of the Netflix limited series, "When They See Us." The four-part series not only became one of Netflix's most-watched shows, but it also earned the streaming giant its most Emmy nominations with a total of 16.
Today, Richardson is an advocate for criminal justice reform and uses his personal experience with false coercions and unjust convictions to bring about change. Both Richardson and Santana now work closely with the Innocence Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing.
The event will be moderated by Alanah Odoms Hebert, leading civil rights attorney and the first African American woman to be named executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana. She is committed to reducing mass incarceration and fighting racial injustice in Louisiana, as well as expanding the ACLU's collaboration with marginalized communities. Initiatives under her leadership include: the campaign to end non-unanimous jury verdicts and a comprehensive statewide assessment of Louisiana's prolific pretrial detainee population.
Our event is FREE and OPEN to the public and includes an open audience Q&A session at the end of the moderated discussion. Doors will open at McAlister Auditorium at 6:15pm. The event begins at 7pm.