My name is Omar “KO” Austin, seerving 67 years to life inside of New Jersey’s State prison
in Trenton. At the age 0f 20 myself and a friend were accused of double homicide in Newark, N.J….Despite the officers planting a witness that at one minute said she “didn’t know what they looked like,” and another time say she looked us directly in the face, yet took 6 whole months to positively identify us. There were so many inconsistancies throughout the case.
I just want to contribute to the conversation of injustice, and illegal sentencing, which is near the root of mass-incarceration.
Many of us have been buried alive inside of these walls. A large amount of attention has been focused on nonviolent offenders every time the national debate heats up. While it is vert sad and unfortunate for the victims of these crimes, and theur loved ones to have to deal with. It is equally unfortunate for the way these investigations are handled and the gross levels of misconduct, and judicial neglegance, that hunt down, and haul us into these prisons, with poor legal representation. Many of us didn’t finish school so we plead out to bad deals that sign away the best years of our lives. Everyone isn’t innocent, and even more of us have certain lower levels of culpability. But at a time where we have lived nearly two decades past the moment when law makers presumed it best to increase tougher sanctions to deter violent offender, that that didn’t work. That could and should have been an eye opener for wiser law makers that followed after the last ones. Like, human beings can and do change. Even guilty convicts have the human ability, to evolve into a better self, and can serve as a better individual in society. Families are decimated right now not just in the black community but other communities as well. While I am African American……I do realize that injustice is colorblind. I’ve spent the majority of my life inside of institutions starting as far back as age 11. Since then I never spent a complete year free on the streets. At first it didn’t bother me. Life was so uncertain and unfulfilling that going to juvenile detention centers and being sent away to group-home style programs provided me with experiences and encounters that were contributing to the overall development of me as a man, and as a person in general. In some strange way I was alright with the whole process. The punishment never made me say “I wouldn’t get into anymore trouble”. I just plotted my next adventure upon release. In the 90’s when me and my friends were becoming part of the institutionalized culture we didn’t know that this was all some kind of organized strategy among lawmakers.
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