April is National Poetry Month. For the first time, the Innocence Project will participate in the literary celebration by featuring poetry written by current and past clients, exonerees, artists and our staff that reflects on issues related to criminal justice.
Today, we’re happy to share The Exonerees, a poem by Valencia Craig, the Innocence Project’s case management database administrator and a longtime poet. Craig wrote the poem on the first night of the recent Innocence Network Conference (March 24th and 25th in San Diego) during a special dinner to honor the 166 exonerees who were in attendance.
Every time another one walks free
I think about where I was
And how old
When the doors first closed behind them.
How many years I lived
While they were enchained,
There are no tears
That can cleanse that pain.
Hearing some of the exonerees share their personal stories was exceptionally meaningful, said Craig.
“Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3 spoke about his incarceration. He had been in solitary confinement longer than I have been alive,” she said. “Collectively the exonerees have spent over 2,000 years in prison and over 200 years on death row for crimes they did not commit.”
If you have a poem about criminal justice that you’d like to share, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be selecting a number of pieces to share on www.innocenceproject.org and on social media this month. Yours might be chosen!