WKYC-TV: Life after a wrongful conviction, meet Charles Jackson
OIP exoneree speaks with Cleveland TV station about nearly three decades of lost freedom
It's been a long journey but Charles Jackson is finding his voice and being heard.
The 59-year-old Cleveland man spent 27 years in prison for a murder and attempted murder he didn’t commit. It’s been more than four years since he gained his freedom with the help of the Ohio Innocence Project at the University of Cincinnati.
Jackson shared his story with WKYC-TV in Cleveland.
Jackson’s attorneys, Mallorie Thomas and Donald Caster of the Ohio Innocence Project (OIP) at the UC College of Law which took up Jackson’s case, argued that the state violated Jackson’s right to a fair trial by not disclosing evidence favorable to him. And throughout the ordeal he always maintained his innocence.
In November 2018, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert C. McClelland ordered Jackson’s release following a hearing in which his attorneys argued —and prosecutors agreed — he deserved a new trial.
On November 27, 2018, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office Conviction Integrity Unit agreed that Jackson’s convictions should be set aside, according to the National Registry of Exonerations. Judge McClelland signed an order vacating the convictions and Jackson was released pending a retrial. On August 29, 2019, the prosecution dismissed the charges.
"It's like a certain type of feeling, humiliation or whatever, to hear, like, 'Convicted murderer' or, you know, 'He's a killer,'"Jackson told WKYC-TV for an interview.
He missed many birthdays and funerals of loved ones. Jackson didn’t see the birth of his daughter and while incarcerated his brother and mother passed away.
"When my mom passed away, I felt so hopeless and I cried out to God. Like, 'God, what I'm going to do,' you know what I'm saying? 'Who gonna be here for me?'" Jackson told WKYC-TV.
But Jackson found a way to cope and ultimately survive.
"I'm a funny dude and, and I think my humor (is) what got me through a lot of it,” he told WKYC-TV. “I just wanted to live," Jackson said. "And it doesn't matter where I am. I'm gonna try to live the best life I can live, you know?"
Learn more about Charles Jackson and OIP.