A Philly Man Who Spent 37 Years of a 50-Year Prison Sentence in Solitary Confinement Has Been Freed
A Philadelphia man who spent 50 years in prison—37 of them in solitary confinement—was released Wednesday after a judge agreed with prosecutors that the murder case for which he was convicted was compromised with false and “highly suspect” statements.
Arthur Johnson was convicted for the murder of Jerome Wakefield in 1970, when Johnson was 18. Prosecutors said Johnson stabbed Wakefield after the victim had been shot by Johnson’s codefendant, Gary Brame, who was just 15.
Johnson confessed to the stabbing, but subsequently said the confession was coerced out of him after he was abused in police custody for more than 20 hours. Since then, Brame has also said that Johnson had no involvement in Wakefield’s killing.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Wednesday that Johnson, with the support of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU), was freed. Common Pleas Court Judge Scott DiClaudio permitted Johnson to plead guilty to a lesser crime with a 10–20-year prison sentence. He has already served that time.
After failed prison escape attempts back in 1979, Johnson was relegated to solitary confinement and was kept in a cell for at least 23 hours a day for years. Johnson sued over that treatment in 2017 with the help of the Abolitionist Law Center, a Pittsburgh-based prisoner rights law firm. It took two hearings to convince a U.S. district judge that Johnson was no longer an escape risk 37 years later—only then was he moved into the general prison population. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, despite a prison deputy superintendent referring to Johnson as a “model prisoner,” other
Article from Latest – Reason.com