Its no feeling in this world like being “locked up” for something you didn’t do. Let alone was never even there. Its no feeling like knowing your innocence, yet a convicted murder in everyone else eyes. I have been writing the Innocence Project since 2000, which is now in the process of reviewing my case. Which help, yet due to there shortage of staff will take years to assist me.
Just recently my attorney died, Mr. John H. Underwood, a court appointed lawyer from Portsmouth, VA. Not knowing this, I wrote to Richmond to request my whole case file. Upon receiving my entire case log, to my surprise within it was information I never knew existed. Information that was being held back at my formal lawyers discretion. As I combed through this information I slowly started to see I was railroaded. The emptiness I feel everyday has made me disconnect emotionally, which has cost me so much. I can not see what I could have done differently. I sometimes think to myself, this just doesn’t happen in our society, this is America. I can not see how God would put such a heavy burden on my shoulders. Then I thought maybe my story could serve as a testimony of how broken our justice system really is. 1 in 3 black males in Virginia will face some form of incarceration. 1 out of 2 will drop out of school. These two statics shows how the “School to Prison Pipeline” effects our community. We(African Americans) drop out of school and graduate to prison. Where prison become our school of hard knocks (Penn State). Were we find ourselves, and have the time to think and self rehabilitate. Which is sad, because it shouldn’t take prison to to learn yourself. But in a broken system, that becomes some people only option.
Its an old African adage that goes; I am because we are, we are because I am… We have to invest in ourselves, we have to start with the youth. Take advantage of thet stage were learning and curiosity is keen. Step up and play a role that has to be played. A father figure. Mass incarceration has removed 48,000 males from our community. Woman has step up and crated movements. Black Lives Matter, Black Girls Rock and other movements to advance our community. Weather socially, or politically. We have to challenge ourselves, as well as the system. We must not only fight the power, but we have to become the power. Obama said yes we can. Let’s not allow distance and time to became an enemy, but lean to help each other so that we can see the value in one another. And always remember; I am because we are, we are because I am…
Categories: Elliott Hill