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Meet Rickey Jackson; The Man Who Served the Longest Sentence of Any Innocent U.S. Inmate

In 1975, Rickey Jackson was 18 years of age when he was condemned to death for a homicide he didn’t commit. Before an observer recantation prompted his quick exoneration and discharge, Jackson went through four decades in jail. At the season of his discharge, he was the longest-serving exoneree in U.S. history.

 

“I never broke the law in my life,” Jackson says in Lonelyleap’s stunning 360° short documentary, Send Me Home. “But nobody cares or believes that you’re innocent in prison. You’re here. You’re 144061 and you’re a killer.”

 

The vivid film transports the watcher into Jackson’s involvement—waiting for capital punishment, in isolation, and after that, at last, to his recovered life as a free individual with a family and a profound thankfulness for craftsmanship.

Cassandra Evanisko, the executive of the film, told The Atlantic that the 360° film organize enabled her and her group to try different things with the juxtaposition of conceptual spaces from Rickey’s past, including the fantasy spaces he made in jail, with the substantial spots he exists in, calmly, today. “The goal was to create an experience that allowed participants to feel as though they were moving between being a guest in Rickey’s home to being a guest in Rickey’s mind,” Evanisko said.

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Rather than draw upon the true-crime tropes that the subject matter invited, the Lonelyleap team decided to omit the details of Jackson’s sentencing and exoneration in favor of focusing on his present life. “We were more interested in creating an intimate, experiential companion to the press clippings,” said Evanisko. “We wanted to create a simple, human portrait that compelled viewers to question the structures that failed Rickey and consider the continued impact felt by countless others currently navigating our criminal-justice and prison systems today.”

 

“It was a struggle every day to maintain being Rickey Jackson, and not be this other person that everybody has elected me to be,” Jackson says in the film. “My mom would tell me, ‘You have a choice of the kind of person you want to be. You went in there as Rickey Jackson, you better come out of there as Rickey Jackson.’”

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