Twenty-five Years Later, Central Park Five Reflect on Justice

Editor's note: Twenty-five years ago, five juvenile males were wrongfully convicted and then incarcerated on rape charges. The Central Park Five, as they became known, ended up serving their full sentences of between 5 and 11 years in prison. They were later exonerated after serial rapist Matias Reyes, already in prison, confessed to the charges (supported by DNA evidence). The Central Park Five filed a wrongful-conviction lawsuit against the City of New York, which remains unsettled. Here, two members of the Central Park Five, Raymond Santana and Yusef Salaam, share their thoughts a quarter-century later.

Hearing the news that possibly there can be an end to this injustice that the five of us and our families had to face for more than 25 years -- that the people of the city of New York who were lied to and mislead; to know that there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel, and it's not an oncoming train -- it becomes a refilling of hope, a refilling of belief in our justice system.

And a sign of proof that, when people believe in justice, wrongs can be righted, and the faith that our people once had can be restored.

Our case is proof that, when the people unite and speak out against injustice, their voices are heard. It's a sign that, if we want change as a people, we have to stand together, no matter what color or background.

The five of us have endured pain and ridicule -- to have a childhood taken and years of growth lost cannot be measured or understood. But after 25 years, here we stand, children of the city, children of the future, now men, lost trying to find our way. Trying to put one foot forward, trying to piece together what is left of our lives and move toward a better tomorrow.

Anniversaries are times of joyous and celebrated memories. For us they are thoughts of struggle, thoughts of losing loved ones and lost time. That time can never be recovered, so we are left with a gap of missed opportunities, a gap of growth, a gap of missed possibilities.

We are blessed to have a new mayor who stands against injustice and who believes in the righteous. A new mayor who sees that stop and frisk is a violation and endangers our youth. As this new mayor takes steps to improve our way of life and right the wrongs by those who were in office before him, we will wait, wait for the day that the Central Park 5 can finally see justice, wait for the day that the Central Park 5 can heal and be made whole again.

--Raymond Santana

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What Happens to a Justice Delayed?

What happens to a Justice Delayed?
It is denied. Is that what this is this time?
Time and time again, then.
Justice delayed...Justice denied.
Drying up like a grape in the sun,
Our indelible scars festering and running.
After a justice delayed too long,
Eluding us like forgotten words to a song.

To put our lives back,
Resuscitating ourselves before we lie flat.
A life that stank like rotting meat
No roses to smell
Not sugary sweet.

Eluding us like it's trying to escape
Unable to erase the label of rape.
I'm pissed as I carry this heavy load.....
I want to explode!!!!!
What happens to a Justice Delayed?

--Yusef Salaam

This blog post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and the producers of "The Central Park Five," a film that documents the wrongful convictions of five New York City youths. A $250 million wrongful-conviction lawsuit filed by the Central Park Five has yet to be settled. To see all the other posts in the series, visit here. For more information about the film -- or the book that inspired it -- visit here.