Aug 6, 2018
On July 1, 50-year-old Jerome Johnson stepped out of the Baltimore courthouse a free man. He was exonerated – a fancy word for “not guilty” – of the murder charge for which he had spent 30 years in prison.
Eighteen years ago, the person who did commit the murder not only admitted it. He also said Johnson wasn’t even there.
Five years ago, a lawyer who believed Johnson was innocent, as he had always declared, took up his case. She turned for help to the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, a group of lawyers and law students who work for free to exonerate innocent prisoners.
When Johnson left prison, the Baltimore state’s attorney spoke to the press of the “years taken away from an innocent man.”
But why did Johnson spend all those years in prison? Because he couldn’t afford a lawyer who could investigate, the way the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project could do. If he had money, he would never have spent years in jail.
Multiple similar cases show the justice system’s disregard for the lives of thousands of men who have been incarcerated above all because they were poor. It’s yet more proof of a legal system designed to incarcerate poor people.
Small wonder the slogan is heard, “no justice, no peace!” The fight for justice means an end to a system that provides justice only to those who can afford to hire good lawyers.