Member of the Exonerated 5 visits Memphis to speak on criminal justice reform

Member of the Exonerated 5 visits Memphis to speak on criminal justice reform

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Raymond Santana, a member of the Exonerated 5 visited Memphis today to join in on the conversation of criminal justice reform.

Today people also got a look at a special screening of the hit docu-series "When They See Us."

It is the story that centers around Santana's and four other teens' wrongful convictions of rape and attempted murder in 1989.

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Santana sat down only with FOX13's Jeremy Pierre and explained how many others here in Tennessee can relate to his story.

Raymond Santana told FOX13 the conversation of Criminal Justice Reform in Memphis is the same conversation that is taking place all over the nation after the exposure of his wrongful conviction.

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"The same tools that are being used in New York are being used here. You just come to bring that awareness and open up people's minds," Santana said.

Santana's reality from 30 years ago can be seen in the Netflix docu-series "When They See Us" which tells a story about five New York City teenagers forced to admit to a crime they did not commit after hours of police interrogation.

Before Santana participated in a community conversation centered around criminal justice today in Memphis, FOX13 spoke to him about the seven years he spent in prison.

"How did you survive that," Jeremy asked.

"Honestly sometimes I don't know. When you look at the base and the foundation and when you're in a fight you just have to keep walking and you know you got to get through this at best as I can and as quick as I can," Santana said.

According to the online organization Prison Policy, Tennessee houses more than 50 thousand people in prisons and jails.

Advocates for criminal justice reform in Memphis say many of those people are innocent.

"You tell people you're going to jail, you must've did something. That's the narrative that's put out there. That's the image," Santana said.

Santana says having community discussions will hopefully reemphasize that everyone is given legal rights, including the right to an attorney for innocent people wrongfully accused.

"We have to spark that mind. We got to spark those solutions," Santana said.