INNOCENCE: Shujaa Graham, Exonerated and Freed from California's Death Row, Tells His Story

In a video interview with Voice of America, former death row inmate Shujaa Graham discusses the emotional toll of being wrongly convicted and sentenced to death in California in 1976.  Graham was convicted of the murder of a prison guard during a protest and spent five years on death row before being acquitted of the crime.  He went through four trials, only one of which resulted in a guilty verdict.  He first went to prison for a robbery conviction, which was also overturned, at age 18.  Graham said, “What has happened to me is over with and done. No one can bring those years back, and no one can remove the psychological scars. No one can remove the physical scars. But Shujaa Graham can go on and make sure what happened to him never happens to anyone else.” Graham’s wife, Phyllis, adds that the experience of facing execution still weighs on him. She said, “It’s been a long time now that we’ve been together and he still suffers and I think there’s still really ways that he holds on to what that formative years of your 20s, is your life, of how you look at the world. His were in prison and death row and being tortured.” Graham concludes, “Each and every day that I wake up, death row is the first thing on my mind. I can look at my children and look at my wife and say what if California would’ve had their way, I wouldn’t be here today.”

(T. Hadavi, "For Freed Inmate, Painful Memories of Life on Death Row," Voice of America, August 8, 2012).  Shujaa Graham is one of the 140 people who were sentenced to death and later exonerated since 1973.  See Innocence.  Listen to DPIC's podcast on Innocence.  See also DPIC's Multi-media page.