After His Exoneration, He Doesn't Think "They Can Ever Make It Right"

person looking at themselves through a mirror shard they are holding
Zain Murdock
August 4, 2022

Charles Jackson spent 28 years in prison for a 1991 murder he always claimed he did not commit. On July 11, 2022, the Cuyahoga, Ohio court finally agreed - declaring him wrongfully imprisoned and deserving of compensation after a police department fabricated and hid evidence. 

But is it truly over?

 Jackson will receive about $52,000 for every year he spent behind bars. But the human cost of prison on his life cannot be priced.

“I can’t even explain the humiliation I felt every time somebody called my name ‘inmate,’ ‘prisoner,’ …‘murderer,’” he said. “I had become a product of my environment. I was turning into a monster.”

He’s not alone.

In Ohio, Black people are nearly 7x more likely to be charged and convicted of murders they didn’t commit than white people. And a recent study found that 80% of exonerees experience at LEAST one traumatic event while incarcerated - showing more signs of PTSD than combat veterans.

Prison is designed to break down our emotional, physical, and psychological health. To make us “disappear” from society and forget who we are. 

And though Jackson couldn’t help but smile at the news of his compensation, he still feels the absence of the half of his life that prison stole. “I don’t think they can ever make it right.”

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