He was locked up at 16 for a crime he didn’t commit, stuck in jail awaiting a trial that never came, put in solitary for two of the three years he was at Riker’s Island in New York. An innocent child enduring the harsh punishment we think worthy of a guilty man.
He committed suicide June 3, 2015, because … well, for reasons we’ll never fully know, but the abuse of imprisonment for a crime he never committed played an enormous part.
I get it that we want to be “tough on crime.” I get it that a lot of us see this man and immediately think he’s done something wrong worthy of imprisonment simply because of the way he looks to us. I get it that we see scary criminals walking free down the street. I get it that to be accused of a crime is to be guilty of a crime. I get all that. We’re trained to see a significant minority of Americans as criminals.
But he was a man, a human, a child, a friend, a brother. And he suffered terrible abuse at our hands through the actions of the state acting in our name, and he’s dead.
A pro-life culture would be weeping over this. A Christian nation would be outraged at the death of innocents. A nation under God would rise up to defend him and people like him from injustice and abuse and silence and separation.
Well, we are who we are.