This Sunday families will gather together to celebrate the women who gave them life. But for the wrongfully convicted, Mother’s Day serves as another reminder of the life that was stolen from them by inequities embedded in the criminal justice system. Many wrongfully convicted people spend decades serving a prison sentence they do not deserve, and subsequently miss countless opportunities to spend time with their mothers, fathers, children, and spouses.
Alan Crotzer, a Florida DNA exoneree, bore the weight of this cross when he lost his mother fives years before his exoneration in 2006. In an interview with the IPF, Alan spoke about his mother’s unwavering faith in his innocence and how she inspired him to continue to fight for his freedom. Alan lost spending the last twenty years of his mother’s life with her due to his wrongful imprisonment. Countless other wrongfully imprisoned have faced similar losses.
Florida DNA exoneree Luis Diaz was wrongfully convicted in 1980 and sent to prison when his three children were only five, seven and thirteen years old. He served 25 years in prison until post-conviction DNA testing provided proof that he was wrongfully convicted. By the time he was released, his children were not only grown but married with children of their own. Luis was denied the ability to raise his own children and his children were denied their father for most of their childhood. Each holiday was a harsh reminder that this family was missing a parent.
These two men represent a fraction of the innocent people in prison who are locked away from their families and their freedom everyday.
We hope you celebrate lives of your mothers, wives and daughters. We applaud their tireless efforts. We also ask that you let your thoughts also turn to those who have had their lives stolen from under them by a wrongful conviction and are waiting to come home.