Hi, my name is Raymond Santana. I and four other teenagers were wrongly convicted of raping a jogger in New York’s Central Park in 1989. The five of us, who have become known as the Central Park Five, didn't even know each other before we were arrested. We just happened to be out in the park the night of this horrible crime. I was incarcerated for six years and combined we spent more than 30 years in prison before we were exonerated in 2002. DNA evidence recovered from the victim was matched to Matias Reyes, a convicted murder and rapist, who has since admitted committing the crime. You can read more about the case here: http://www.innocenceproject.org/Content/Raymond_Santana.php Even after the Manhattan District Attorney exonerated us and Reyes confessed, the New York City Police Department continues to say we are guilty. But thanks to a documentary, The Central Park Five (http://www.ifcfilms.com/films/the-central-park-five), by Ken Burns, his daughter Sarah and David McMahon, the public has finally learned the truth. AMA.

verified: https://twitter.com/innocence/status/393514881300692992

I have to go now, but you guys had some great questions. I thank you for them. This has been an awesome experience, looking forward to talking to you guys sometime in the future. You guys can also reach me on twitter @SantanaRaymond and that is also on Facebook and Instagram. And please support the Innocence Project, they do great work.

Comments: 108 • Responses: 44  • Date: 

Darnell_North80 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA. Due to my personal situation, your story has really hit home and you give me hope. A couple of questions:

After you were incarcerated, how did you keep your motivation to remain a good citizen?

How has your experience changed the way you view and interact with LEO's, TSA agents, lawyers, etc?

InnocenceProject130 karma

Wow, that is a good question. From the get go, I was never a criminal, that was number one. In prison I was able to get my degree and did a lot of reading, and when I got out of prison, it was with the hopes of being productive.

At the end of the day, I don't look at the officers themselves, I look at the people who are in charge of the system. Those who make the rules, the policies and the procedures, those are the people we have to hold accountable.

Darnell_North17 karma

Your strength is truly inspiring!

What kinds of things can we do to hold the people in charge accountable?

InnocenceProject30 karma

Question their motives. Let a person prove their worth, especially dealing with politicians, because at the end of the day we have the voice and they work for us, so we definitely have to hold them accountable to fulfill our needs as a people and as far as what we need as a city.

Darnell_North5 karma

Would you consider running for political office?

InnocenceProject26 karma

No because being so close to politicians now, you really get to see them from a different angle and that angle is not pretty sometimes. And so from what I see it is easy for politicians to sway in different directions and it is easy to get caught up. You come in with good intentions and then you become like the rest of them. I don't want to do that.

Mbailey08043 karma

Raymond, thank you so much for doing this. my fiancé is currently going through the same process as he has been wrongfully accused of a murder he did not commit. There are no forensics, no eye witnesses. This is an entirely circumstantial case. The prosecutor who was originally assigned to his case passed it down to one of his juniors a few days ago. I assume for fear of losing the case come trial. I was just wondering if you have any advice for someone who is going through a similar situation.

InnocenceProject43 karma

Seek good representation. Maintain your innocence. And he can also go to a law library and do research on case law. And never give up hope.

adsras37 karma

Also curious if any of you ever met Trisha Meili.

InnocenceProject79 karma

No we have not. For over 13 years she has been told a lie that we were still guilty because she befriended prosecutors and detectives in this case, and so we never pushed the issue to meet with her, but if she ever wants to talk to us our door is open.

Rdlark130 karma

Were your Miranda rights given? If so, why didn't you ever stop the interrogation or ask for your parents or ask for an attorney?

InnocenceProject67 karma

Miranda rights were read. But as a 14 year old kid, who was put in a situation where he does not know what is going on, it went over my head. And so also you know the police, when you are put in a situation like that and you have nothing to hide, they encourage that, they say well if you have nothing to hide you can talk to us. But as a 14 year old kid, you don't really know what Miranda is.

adsras27 karma

I watched the Ken Burns documentary recently and aside from the incredible injustice you all suffered I was I was struck by how composed and mature you all seemed. And all of you, as adults, have composure and poise that is inspiring, considering the circumstances. My question is, why do you think it has taken so long for the city to act on the lawsuit? My impression is that they don’t want to admit how badly they screwed up. But all 5 of you are owed something from the city, an apology and settlement.

InnocenceProject43 karma

An apology, yes. A settlement would be nice. But the reason why this case isn't settled or finished is because of Mayor Bloomberg. You know we have received proclamations from the City Council, from the State Senate, the Attorney General has said this case needs to be settled, and also the City Comptroller, the only person left who has not spoken on this case is Mayor Bloomberg.

dddtom25 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA. This may be a very personal question: Are you angry? If I were in your shoes, I would be for sure, and I think you have every right to be. But I'm curious how you have dealt with this so far.

InnocenceProject61 karma

I'm not angry because when you are angry it can eat you up from the inside out, and it can cloud your judgement and your vision. So I am not angry, but there is this feeling of disappointment because we are still dealing with this civil case for 10 years now. And as long as this case is still in litigation, it is very hard to finally close this scar and move forward.

Sadcecile17 karma

Hi Mr. Santana, I´m a mexican journalist and I salute you from Santiago de Chile. I'm working on my degree essay about "Proyecto Inocentes", the chilean version of The Innocence Project and I'd really appreciate if you can give me an opinion about your concept of "injustice"; tell me about your contact with The Innocence Project and the importance of the DNA tests as a mandatory issue, more than the witnesses' statement for all the legal systems in Latin America. Thanks.

InnocenceProject21 karma

I work with the Innocence Project to talk about false confessions and how real they are. I think that DNA testing is very important. In our case it was done and it proved early that we were not the perpetrators in this case, but due to the public outcry the headlines were so outrageous that people just bypassed it and ignored it.

tatyanabellamy15 karma

what systematic or institutional changes do you think should be made to end wrongful convictions?

InnocenceProject31 karma

Interrogations should be filmed from the start. We live in a day and age when awareness needs to be put out there to prepare our kids for being stopped and frisked. People need to keep an open mind on the end of the day and not let the media sway them or make them so quick to judge. We need to look at policies and procedures of institutions like the police department, prison reform.

fredmerz15 karma

Hi. Just wanted to say thanks for doing this AMA. Hearing your story in Central Park 5 tipped me over the edge when I was considering applying to law school and also led to me volunteering at the Innocence Project (still in law school and volunteering at IP was an incredible experience). As many people as possible should hear about what the city did to you guys and how quickly the public embraced the state's narrative. It's absolutely horrific and terrifying.

InnocenceProject21 karma

Thank you for volunteering at the Innocence project. And thank you for your incredible words. They are greatly appreciated.

Rdlark113 karma

What can we do to help you and the other 4 men in this case...and your families?

InnocenceProject28 karma

First of all you can spread the word about the film, about this case in general, also you can write a letter to our future Mayor, Bill de Blasio and ask him to settle this case.

KushTheKitten9 karma

If you could say anything to the Chief of Department of the New York City Police Department, what would it be?

InnocenceProject20 karma

I mean unfortunately Kelly was not the police commissioner at the time that this crime occurred. But for him not to take any responsibility for police action, it has been the total opposite, where they issued a report saying we were still guilty. And so it's very hard to answer that, because at the end of the day Kelly still has a resistance, not just with our case but the city of NY in general, when you look at Stop and Frisk and all the numerous other cases where there has been police misconduct and the commissioner always takes the side of the police. So at the end of the day he should be replaced.

tatyanabellamy6 karma

Hi, thank you for sharing your story as a young person it truly is inspiring and humbling. I have a few questions below.

  1. What was your initial reaction to the verdict at 14 ?
  2. What words of advice from your father encouraged you to stay strong during the trial ?
  3. What did you miss most about your youth while incarcerated?
  4. After years of incarceration, how did you reconnect with society?
  5. How did you get past the stigma of being incarcerated?
  6. In wake of the recent Trayvon Martin verdict, how do you think young Africans Americans are still stigmatized today?
  7. Why is it important to keep your voice present in media?
  8. What do you hope youth can learn from your experience?

InnocenceProject19 karma

1 Well, I was kind of stunned. But they read, I think, it was Antron's verdict that was read first. And once I heard all the "guilty's" on the charges, I knew that was going to be my fate also.

2 I mean it was not any advice, it was more of an example, just him showing up to see me at the trial, him showing up to see me 2 or 3 times a week at the prison was strength.

3 Not being able to just be a 14 year old kid. I missed birthdays, I missed holidays, I missed connecting with my family, going to my dad for advice, for my first date or how to fill out a job application.

4 Well it was hard, because there was no transitional programs, they just dropped us off and expected us to function. So everything we did we had to earn on our own, or we had some type of help from a family member or somebody within the community. What people take for granted, just riding the subway, you had to get used to that all over again.

5 You never get past it, it's still there. This case will go with me to the grave.

6 I mean if you just look at the Daily News, the kid who purchased the $350 belt at Barneys. They should have explained it to him as a customer rather than calling the police.

7 Because at the end of the day you don't want people to forget what happened. We are still dealing in a legal battle and as long as your voice stays out there the system will know they will have to deal with you. They want to sweep it under the rug, to stall and weigh you down, so keep your voice out there so people will never forget what happened. Because what happens is once they forget. Those who would help really want to help, help keep it a hot issue so politicians can't sweep over it.

8 That the experience is real. That it happens every day. And it's all about awareness. We don't want kids to be afraid, we want them to have their voice and be kids. All kids.

tatyanabellamy5 karma

Thank you

How did your father help you keep your strength during the trial?

InnocenceProject7 karma

It was very hard for him. Like I said earlier, he developed a drinking problem. For him, the ultimate goal of a parent is to protect their kid when there is a situation, and at that point he felt he failed as a parent because he could not exercise his ability as a protector and save me out of this situation. But he always supported me.

tatyanabellamy3 karma

Thank you so much !

  1. How did you rebuild a life of success for yourself?
  2. Do you have any lasting remarks?

InnocenceProject8 karma

1 Really I was blessed, I did not build it. After exoneration and after this documentary came out, it kind of did a 360 for us. And so it was not really too much effort on our part, it was a gift and I was lucky.

2 We deal with a lot of problems as a people, whether it is unemployment or injustice, and I think that the only way we can solve these problems is if we come together as a people and stand united and unify our voices and let them be heard.

gorevidalsassoon5 karma

Such an unimaginably awful situation to happen to anyone, but it's affirming to hear that you're able to move your life forward.

Two questions:

1) this whole thing about 'wilding' - was that something you actually said, or is that just a further media perversion? Some articles make it sound like you guys were up to 'petty gang activity' in the park that night, and other make it sound like you'd never even met before. I'm just trying to understand.

2) This question undoubtedly reflects my ignorance, and I understand that you didn't do it, but I'm having trouble understanding how someone could falsely confess to such a serious crime in the absence of like, torture. You said below that you were exhausted and overwhelmed, and hadn't eaten/drunk anything at the station in 15 hours, and I get that you would have been confused, but falsely confessing to a rape/attempted murder seems like a big leap from there. Can you help us understand the thought process/ police tactics a little better?

InnocenceProject15 karma

1 The term 'wilding' came from the police. Which was a term that was given to the media and they ran with it. That never came from us. And as far as the petty gang activity, there were people who committed crimes but we did not. The 5 of us did not commit any crimes.

2 First you have to understand the dynamics of the scene. I am a 14 year old kid, very naive, never been involved in the system, never had any contact with police, and then you have to look at the police officers, these guys are veterans, they are considered the elite of the police force and they were very skilled in their tactics. You also have to look at the physical, no food, no drink, no sleep. At the end of the day, when a kid tells a lie the parents know, and so do authority figures. So they started to feed you what they thought were the facts. Like for instance they said "Something was used Raymond. A brick, a rock, or a pipe." and so ultimately I said a brick. So they went and got a brick and they presented a brick at trial even though there was no blood on it. So the whole process was to get you to a state of wearing you down but they keep reiterating what happened, who were you with, were you with this person or that person, they are forcefeeding you a story. Because I did not know Kevin or Steven Lopez. When they know you are broken down, they start to present you with what they see as the facts. And it's all about now you are just repeating what they are telling you. At that point you are just exhausted because you have cried several times already. Promises are made, that if you help us we will help you, I know you want to go home, this can get you out of trouble and help you go home. They understand that there's a point when you start to break and you start to say "I know Kevin did it." They know now they got you in, they ask you more, even though you are lying, they help you formulate the story. By that time, what you see is the presented package after they have gotten you, when you see the video it looks like I am telling you the story for the first time in a very cold blooded way. You are seeing the finished product not the whole production that went into making it.

25% of the 311 DNA exonerations were false confessions.

ArdhysD5 karma

Wow! I cannot imagine how difficult that must have been. I am honestly inspired and amaze that you were able to cover come this. I cannot imagine what it would have been like to be in your shoes and think you are very brave for being able to get through it. I also want to know 1. How has this the sequence of these events changed your life? 2. How have you been trying to pick up the pieces? 3. What is your goal in telling your story?(As in what do you want others to take away from this)

InnocenceProject8 karma

1 It made me grow up fast. I could not live the life of a regular kid because this gap was taken out of my life, and so it always puts me behind. I am always trying to catch up. I can't enjoy life like the average person because the media is always looking for me to get into something negative so they can put it in the paper so they can say something like we told you he was guilty, he's not that innocent.

2 One day at a time. And analyze any situation that I walk into. I am not so fast to speed through life, so I take a step back and try to enjoy and I literally overanalyze sometimes anything that I get into.

3 I want people to learn from our story so that they know it can happen, that it still happens. This is not an isolated case, it happens all the time, and I want this story to hopefully save somebody's life.

Tkapur4 karma

I just want to thank you for being so open about your experiences, and apologize for all you wen through. You're an inspiration to many young people in difficult situations.

InnocenceProject5 karma

Thank you.

ArdhysD3 karma

I would love for you to come to my school and tell the students your story. I feel like there is a big percentage in my school, specially in the younger grades, of kids who have this mind set of "This will never happen to me," and I feel that your story could break through this egotistical mentality and perhaps even change their perspective on life. How can we make this happen?

  1. How do you try to get your life back to normal?
  2. What do you want your child to learn from this?
  3. Since the release of the documentary has it been easier for you to integrate back into society, how so?
  4. What was it like being in jail through the eyes of a teenager?
  5. What is the innocent project exactly? How did it get started?
  6. Did you know it was Reyes who was responsible? If not, how did you feel when you found out?

InnocenceProject2 karma

Please contact [email protected] to ask them.

1 One step at a time. And don't speed.

2 I want my child to know that at the end of the day there are things set up to stop her development, to stop her from being successful in life, but I don't want her to not be a kid. It has to be a type of balance. Not to lose your innocence, not to let that be taken from you.

3 yes because we get a lot of people who stop us in the street, who apologize for what happened, and it becomes like a welcoming back into society which is part of the healing process for us.

4 It is terrifying. It becomes difficult because the stuff that you would be learning as a teenager gets replaced with prison life, and so I became institutionalized. The psychological effects, you start to think differently. Where a kid can be naive at 14, in prison you can't, so you start to take on these characteristics from prison. You have to be aggressive because that is a deterrent. Just the way you move is different. You watch everything that is moving because in prison you have to watch your back.

5 The Innocence Project is a legal organization that uses DNA evidence to prove that people have been wrongly convicted of a crime and tries to reform the criminal justice system. They will take any case where we believe DNA evidence will ultimately prove innocence.

6 No I did not. When I found out, I did not believe it. I was in shock. I did not believe they actually found the person that committed this crime. It was not until I was released that it sunk in. I had numerous conversations with my lawyer who said he was going to get me home before Christmas, and I literally did not believe him.

liznquilts3 karma

I must go now, but I thank you with all my heart for sharing your heart with us!

InnocenceProject4 karma

Thank you so much, I appreciate that.

liznquilts3 karma

How are you moving forward? I'm so sorry you were wrongfully convicted!

InnocenceProject9 karma

Thank you. And how I move forward is that I do a lot of speaking to the kids in highschools and colleges, and that has become therapy for me, it has become a way of healing, it has been very beneficial to my growth and development as far as with this case. Also my daughter is a big part in moving forward.

liznquilts3 karma

I love that your daughter is now involved. How does she handle the "cloud" of you being part of the Central Park 5"??

InnocenceProject13 karma

In her eyes Daddy went through something and he was able to overcome it, so what I see from her is that she is proud. She tells her friends that Daddy is famous and when people approach me in the street and she is there, to her Daddy is important. And so I see it that she looks up to me. And the relationship that we have is so good that she comes and asks me all types of questions that she would not ask her mother, and I think that is great.

Darnell_North3 karma

How will you/did you all talk to your children about what happened to you?

InnocenceProject12 karma

My daughter knows what happened to me. And if she ever has a question she asks and I explain as best I can. My daughter is 9 years old and I don't hide it from her, it's something she needs to know growing up in the city because wrongful conviction can happen to females also.

fentonsmom3 karma

Hi, thank you for doing this, I look forward to a lot of insight into the judicial system. 2 Questions, forgive me if they are too personal.

  1. What, in short, were the conditions that led to your confession?
  2. Do you think the case would have turned out differently if the victim had been a woman of color?

InnocenceProject7 karma

1 There was a lack of sleep, no food, no drink, over 15 hours. Also the separation of the guardians, my grandmother was not in the room at the time. And they used good cop bad cop tactics, the yelling, the screaming, spitting in the face when the person talked to you very closely.

2 Yes. There were several other cases that happened around the same time that happened with women of color that did not receive anywhere near the level of coverage that she did. 1989 you had all the major tabloids that were all fighting to have the most outrageous headlines, and that put a lot of feelings in people, the way that the headlines were written, with 5 black and hispanic kids being written to come into Midtown or what were considered holy areas to assault people...

ljones113 karma

How long did it take for you to get legal representation? How did it happen?

InnocenceProject2 karma

I had an attorney by the name of Peter Rivera. And he was somebody who my father hired through a friend. And it did not take long to find him.

PounderMcNasty3 karma

Do you still keep in contact with the 4 other guys? Have you received an apology from the prosecutors?

InnocenceProject2 karma

Yes and no.

Rdlark13 karma

  1. What has the city or court system done to make amends about what happened to you and the other four...and do you think it was enough? I know money can't give you back the years spent in jail.

  2. What advice would give to other people who find themselves in a similar situation as you?

  3. How is your family doing now?

  4. Do you still keep in touch with the other men?

  5. Do you feel like you have adjusted to being out now or has this mark on your reputation been a permanent one that may never go away?

InnocenceProject8 karma

1 The city has not done anything. We are still in a legal battle with them that has been going on for 10 years.

2 Ask for legal representation. Don't say anything.

3 My family is the same as me, they are taking it one day at a time and trying to put things back together. This case took a toll on my dad, he was ridiculed a lot, he developed a drinking problem because of this case, so it definitely has been rough for him.

4 Yes. Antron talks to me every day. Literally every day. Me and Yusef used to do numerous speaking engagements together. And me and Kevin speak regularly. And Kory always stops by my house to see my dad.

5 You know, it is a tough adjustment because at the end of the day you still have this label. Whether it is positive or negative, people will always associate us with the Central Park 5. So any situation you walk into whether it is a job or even a relationship, that stuff always follows you.

Rdlark14 karma

Thank you so much for doing this. Before it is too late, the city and the mayor or even the President of the United States (since he made comments regarding Trayvon Martin), someone with power should speak against this and get the ball rolling. Reprimands have been long overdue. I pray you and the others and your families will all get through this and that something positive can finally come from all of this. If there is anything we can do, please let us know. While you have been answering questions, I decided to send a comment/e-mail to Mayor Bloomberg. I pray that he or someone on his staff will get this ball rolling. Keep your chin up and good luck. Like your comment below said, "Never give up hope"!

InnocenceProject8 karma

Thank you so much for sending Bloomberg an email. That is great.

Blutroyale-_-3 karma

I'm sorry that our justice system is ass backwards and same with half the people that run it and work within it - I couldn't be more sadden to hear your story, I hope that you have have a safe journey returning to life outside of incarceration. that's all.

InnocenceProject2 karma

Thank you.

SuperScate2 karma

Hi Raymond

Thanks for doing the AMA. Sorry to hear that this happened to you and the other four. It has have been hard to go through that at a young age. Sounds like you are satisfied with how the doco has shown your story. I look forward to seeing it.

Do you visit Central Park these days?
Do you have any relationship with Trisha Meili?


InnocenceProject6 karma

Never. I never visit Central Park.

And no I do not.

SuperScate2 karma

Thanks. I hope you and the others get the apology and compensation you deserve. And the peace to put it all behind you.

InnocenceProject3 karma

Thank you. From your lips to God's ears.

ArdhysD2 karma

  1. Do you think this experience has made you stronger?
  2. You mentioned that you plan to continue talking to kids so they can learn from your story, but how exactly do you reach out to these kids? Do you attend schools and tell your story? If not, would you be interested in doing this in the near future?
  3. What kept you going while in jail? As in, what kept your spirits up and gave you hope that one day everything was going to work out?
  4. Did you ever think your name was going to be cleared? Why or why not?

InnocenceProject2 karma

1 Yes. Definitely.

2 Yes, I attend colleges, I attend highschools, through the Innocence Project I have attended film festivals and anyplace that would show our film and we would speak afterwards to the audience.

3 For me, I never exercised options. I knew that there was one way and that was forward. I never thought about suicide, I just knew I had to be strong and I had to move forward and try to get back to my family.

4 I never thought my name would be cleared because this case was so big and it turned a lot of people against us and even when Reyes came forward, I thought they would just try to make him the 6th man and try to sweep the case under the rug. What this case did to a lot of people was that it swayed a lot of people in the beginning, they are guilty, castrate them, etc. and then when Reyes came forward it made people look in the mirror and say "wow. I was so gung-ho to send these guys to jail" so rather than face that a lot of people would rather that it go away. Because it hurts, it does. Even to this day if it comes on certain channels, reporters will ask if this case is still going on.

dddtom2 karma

At the end of those 15 hours of interrogation where they used scare tactics on you, did they force a false confession out of you? Were you so scared that you "admitted" to the crime? Or did you maintain your innocence through your whole interrogation?

InnocenceProject4 karma

I started maintaining in the beginning, but after they get you to a state of helplessness and they broke me down then they forced a confession out of me.

mrsmproductions2 karma

Mr.Santana I have the utmost respect for you and what you and your family have endured. My question is. ... do you feel you did NOT receive adequate representation?

Also I want to become a defense attorney and work with the Innocence Project during and after law school? Do you feel that there are OTHER innocent men in the prison you were in, that might never be released because the isn't any DNA evidence to exonerate them?

InnocenceProject3 karma

Yes. I feel that I did not receive adequate representation.

Yes. I feel that there are a lot of people out there who will never get the chance or their story will never be heard. So I applaud you for wanting to go into law and help people.

dddtom2 karma

You said: "The city has not done anything. We are still in a legal battle with them that has been going on for 10 years."

Can you explain in more detail what the city has said so far? I mean, the facts show that they messed up. So what has the city told you so far, to keep this legal battle going for 10 years?

InnocenceProject3 karma

Alright well first off the city changed their reasons. So first they said that either Reyes went first or we went first (*during the crime). That was their theory. Which meant we were still guilty. And then their second theory was that due to the underground prison network, gangs in prison put pressure on Reyes to come forward, and there are several other theories but currently counsel says it is not about whether we are innocent or guilty anymore, it's about whether the police did anything wrong and that the police did nothing wrong and they did everything by the book.

ohsnapzzz2 karma

Mr. Santana, thank you so much for doing this AMA. I'm reading with my mother who I learned about your case from a few years ago, and me and her are both happy to see you, the other four, and your family are doing well.

I find it funny that Bloomberg can hold press conferences on banning soda, but cannot apologize publicly to five men who had their childhoods stripped from them. Have the arresting officers in the case ever apologized to the five of you? Also, this is a long shot but is there anything we can do to put pressure on the mayor's office to give you all the public apology you more than deserve?

Thank you, and God bless.

InnocenceProject4 karma

Well you know that they never apologized. And as far as putting pressure, you can get the word out, and also send a letter to de Blasio.

adsras2 karma

Were any of you "up to no good" that night? In the documentary, I don't recall this being addressed but all of you seemed so unlikely to be involved in criminal activity. It's not really relevant but you all seemed like good kids.

Do you know any of the other high profile wrongly convicted -- West Memphis 3, Amanda Knox, etc.?

Thanks so much for doing this.

InnocenceProject9 karma

We were good kids. We came from good families. Antron at the age of 14 was scouted because of his ability to play baseball. They said he could hit a 95 mph fastball and could play several different positions. And so when we were picked up we were the most vulnerable. We had never had any contact with police before, never had any criminal records and were very naive to the procedures and tactics of the police.

I know of them, but I don't know them personally.

adsras3 karma

That's the impression I had, makes the whole story so much harder to believe.

InnocenceProject3 karma

But that's what makes it so easy for a person to confess to something they did not do. Because we came from good families and were good kids, it was easier to fall for police tactics.

ArdhysD2 karma

I agree with you on everything. It is unbelievable that because of the sequence of these events, you, an innocent person has had to endure and live through all of this. But I am glad that you have managed to find ways to still enjoy life, because at the end of the day, although it took a while, you made it. Your name was clean and you were exonerated, something that sometimes doesn't happen to those other innocent souls, sitting in jail.

  1. Do you feel like this documentary has given your life back?

  2. What are your plans for the future?

  3. Do you still feel that there is still a small percent of people, specially your family that judges you today?

  4. Why do you think this happened to you? If there was no association between you and the other four males, and you were simply at the wrong place, at the wrong time, why did they convict you? Was it more along the lines of discrimination?

  5. If so, what do you think can be done or should be done to stop this from happening to other Latino teenagers in the future?

  6. What have you learned from this experience?

  7. What compelled you to share your story with us today?

InnocenceProject4 karma

1 Yes definitely.

2 To continue to talk to kids and to continue to tell them our story and hope that they learn from it.

3 I don't know. I mean I hope not. But from what I see they have been very supportive and very proud.

4 Yes. We were stopped and frisked before there was a stop and frisk program. And they knew that we did not know each other, and so they played on that.

5 Awareness is number 1. We can start recording interrogations from the beginning. Also we can ask outside agencies to step in and be there for juveniles when they are arrested and brought to the precinct, and what I mean by outside agencies we are talking Juvenile Justice, Child Welfare, etc.

6 Not to take everything on face value. Not to be so fast to pass judgement. Really look at the whole picture before you make a decision.

7 It's an opportunity to speak and to vent and to heal.

carduder2 karma


InnocenceProject4 karma

Yes, they did clear it. And they tried to make it seem like it did not even happen.

Provetie1 karma

At any point during your trial and/or incarceration did you wonder, "what if I did do it?

InnocenceProject29 karma

NEVER. I know what I did and did not do.

dddtom1 karma

Has there been any compensation for your wrongful conviction?

Is there an effort to convict any of the people involved in the prosecution?

InnocenceProject3 karma


No. There have been numerous depositions done, and there is a perjury charge in there somewhere.

ArdhysD1 karma

Hello Mr. Santana, My name is Ardhys, I am a student from WJPS in queens. I am working with El Diario on a piece about you regarding your experience. 1. How was it like living with this horrible accusation that you raped someone? 2. How did it feel to be convicted of this crime at such a young age? 3. How did you feel when you were exonerated? 4. What has it been like, trying to get past this wrongful social stigma?

InnocenceProject2 karma

1 It was very hard. You know, you have to walk on eggshells, and at the end of the day you have to be aware of your surroundings and the people you come into contact with. there was a point where I did not want to be around children because people always looked at me funny. I felt like there was a target on my back. I had family members who thought I was guilty. And that was very hard. At the end of the day, I was not Raymond Santana, the neighbor the childhood friend the family member, I was Raymond Santana from the Central Park 5.

2 It was very difficult because at the end of the day, as a kid you don't fully understand everything as far as the law is concerned. All you know is that you are going to prison and how long you are going to be there. That's the only thing, when you give you that paper and they tell you your parole date is not until 1994 and you're talking 1990, for me that felt like an eternity.

3 I felt liberated. I felt like finally, we were going to receive some kind of justice. And I felt like we were, this scar that this case was going to give us was going to close and we would be able to move on with our lives.

4 Well we have been able to change the label of the Central Park 5, so we had to embrace it in order to do that. And in turn, it gave us a platform and an opportunity to let our voices be heard and to tell our story.