Refusing To Say You Are Guilty Can Cost Your Life

If you are innocent of a crime and are offered three years in prison to say that you are guilty – what do you do?  In this country, you better think long and hard about the answer.  Three years in a prison and a criminal record – or your life.

It’s ‘the system’.  If you don’t take the time and punishment you are offered, the charges will be stacked so high, you won’t ever see the light of a free day again.  Messiah Johnson, among others, has learned that.  Some might say our ‘freedom’ is merely an illusion in America, and in this case, it would be hard to argue that point.

In 1998, nearly twenty years ago, Messiah was sentenced to 132 years in prison.  Hearing a sentence of that length, people assume things.  The first assumption is that at least one person must have been killed.  That didn’t happen.  Nobody was killed.  As a matter of fact, no one was injured.

In 1997 a robbery took place at a salon.  Messiah was offered three years to say he did it in a fairly weak case against him.  Three years became 132 years without parole when he refused to take the deal.

Today, Christmas 2017, Messiah Johnson is spending in a prison cell, as he has every Christmas and every day since his 1998 sentencing.  This has happened before and it will happen again.  Without reform of our Criminal Justice System, people like Messiah Johnson will be harshly punished for not agreeing to what they are offered and die locked up in the most incarcerated country in the world, without anybody ever being the wiser.

As it turns out – someone other than Messiah has confessed to the robbery in the salon.  Despite that, Mr. Johnson is spending another Christmas behind bars in the state of Virginia.   The Innocence Project has been on this case for five years.


Green, Frank. “Man Serving 132-year Sentence for 1997 Robbery under Consideration for Clemency.” Richmond Times-Dispatch. N.p., 22 Dec. 2017. Web. 25 Dec. 2017.

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