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Video: Man Wrongfully Imprisoned for 39 Years Forgives the Man Who Put Him There

Zoe Romanowsky - published on 04/01/15

Ricky Jackson speaks about what it's like to be free at last

This past November, Ricky Jackson became a free man after 39 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Judge Richard McMonagle threw out his conviction of a 1975 murder at a Cleveland grocery store, which was based on a lie told by a 12 year-old boy who was under pressure by police to say he witnessed the crime. Eddie Vernon, the boy who is now grow up, recanted his testimony, which freed Jackson and two other men who were also convicted and imprisoned. 

Jackson, who was just awarded over a million dollars in damages by the state of Ohio, was elated to finally be free. When asked by the press what he thought about the man who’s false testimony put him behind bars, he said:

"…People have to remember that they see him as a grown man today, but in ’75 he was a 12 yr. old kid and he was manipulated and coerced by the police and they used him; they used him to get us in prison. So, as far as that young man is concerned, I wish him the best. I don’t hate him; I just wish he has a good life. It took a lot of courage to do what he did in that courtroom. You guys didn’t see his testimony; you didn’t hear his testimony … They tried to break him, they tried to screw him up, but at the end he always said the same basic thing: ‘They didn’t do it, I Iied.’ And that took a lot of courage for him. He’s been carrying a burden around for 39 years, like we have, but in the end he came through, and I’m grateful or that." 

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