Kevin Richardson Delivers Keynote Address at SFC Justice Conference
On March 31 and April 1, St. Francis College (SFC) held its second annual Criminal Justice Reform and Re-Entry Conference, which saw the participation of academics, public officials and formerly incarcerated individuals.
A highlight of the first day of the conference was the film screening in Founders Hall Auditorium of "The Central Park Five," the Peabody Award–winning documentary by filmmaker Ken Burns that chronicles the story of the five men who were wrongly convicted of the 1989 rape of a female jogger in Central Park. All were ultimately exonerated, in 2002, but not before each had served between 5 and 11 years in prison.
Immediately following the screening, Kevin Richardson — one of the Exonerated Five, as the men have come to be known — delivered the conference’s keynote address. A motivational speaker, Richardson works with the Innocence Project, traveling the country to raise awareness of the imbalances in the justice system and the historical biases that continue to impact people of color.
In his keynote, Richardson touched upon a variety of topics, including policing and police deception, accountability, and resilience. “As men of color, we have to stay relevant and fight for the greater good," he told the audience. "We need to keep pushing forward.” He also took questions from SFC students and faculty members as well as other conference attendees.
Richardson regards programs such as SFC’s Justice Initiative as “extremely beneficial” in helping the formerly incarcerated with the re-entry process and lauds the value of education in general. While in prison, he managed to obtain his associate’s degree.
“Your mind is one thing they can’t take away from you," Richardson concluded. "When I was incarcerated, I was physically incarcerated, never mentally. My mind was always free.”