"With God as my witness, I have been falsely accused of these crimes. I did not commit them. I'm an innocent man." In 1983 Calvin C. Johnson Jr. spoke these words to a judge who later handed down a life sentence for rape and related crimes. Johnson spent sixteen years behind bars before he was freed in 1999 after DNA testing conclusively ruled out the possibility of his guilt.
Exit to Freedom is the unforgettable story of Johnson's unrelenting quest for justice against incredible odds and under circumstances that threatened to shred his dignity and hope. As Johnson recalls his trial and long journey toward freedom through five Georgia prisons, he also speaks candidly about everything from his middle-class childhood in Atlanta to the reasons he came to be a rape suspect to the steadfast support of his family. This is also a story of faith: how Johnson found it in prison and how, he believes, it played a role in his release.
At the point in his prison term when Johnson thought that he had exhausted all avenues of appeal, DNA-based forensics began to make headlines. Eventually his case was taken up by the Innocence Project, the nonprofit legal clinic renowned for overturning convictions through DNA testing of evidence. Years of delay followed, but Johnson eventually became the sixty-first convict to be exonerated with the Innocence Project's help. His is the only first-person account of a wrongful conviction overturned through DNA testing.
However disturbed readers may become by this portrait of a justice system undermined by its own cynicism, Johnson himself feels no bitterness toward his accusers. In a book that offers many lessons about freedom, that may be the most important one of all.
|Publisher:||University of Georgia Press|
|Edition description:||New Edition|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.91(d)|
About the Author
GREG HAMPIKIAN, an associate professor of biology, works in the forensic science program at Boise State University.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Calvin Johnson is one of the most inspiring writers you will ever read about. A story that should appeal to readers interested in judicial reform, in our prisons, and in the conversion of hearts. Most of all, it should appeal to anyone who enjoys a strong and dramatic tale of struggle and triumph. In his book Exit to Freedom, Calvin not only describes his childhood and the well behaved family he came from, but also exposes you to the dark side of Americas system of criminal justice. Taken away from his life by racism and indifference to truth, Calvin spent almost seventeen years in prison for crimes he did not commit. In college, he got busted for buying marijuana from an undercover cop. In his one real act of stupidity, he attempted to burgle an apartment for money to pay a pricey lawyer to get him off the drug charge. Awaiting trial, he was accused of having committed an earlier sexual assault; though the charges were dropped, the paperwork never got cleared up, and the false charge kept coming back to haunt him. Released on parole, he is immediately picked up for another rape, and though there's obvious evidence he didn't commit the crime-and none to prove he did-he gets convicted: "I am about to serve a life sentence, plus thirty years, for a rape I did not commit, and it is considered a repeat offense, because of another rape I did not commit." Having known that Calvin was arrested in 1983, shows the struggle that African Americans had to put up with. If a situation happened like this today, it would not only be African Americans accused of the rape but Americans as well. If you like a book that keeps you wondering even after you are done reading it you will clearly enjoy this story. Over all, I would rate the book a 5 out of 5.