You know you didn’t do anything, but they don’t believe you. Hot lights beam down on you, and they tell you that your friends have already given you up. They say you can go home…if you just tell them what they want to hear.
Coerced confessions, unjust incarcerations–this is the real life story of a group of young men wrongly convicted of a brutal crime. Dubbed “The Central Park Five,” the Harlem teens would spend more than a decade in jail for a crime they didn’t commit.
Ava DuVernay is teaming up with Netflix to tell their story through a scripted five part documentary series. Her first project, the Oscar-nominated 13th, focused on mass incarceration and the criminal justice system.
“The story of the men known as the Central Park Five has riveted me for more than two decades,” DuVernay said in a statement. “In their journey, we witness five innocent young men of color who were met with injustice at every turn — from coerced confessions to unjust incarceration to public calls for their execution by the man who would go on to be the president of the United States.”
In 1989, #45 spent an estimated $85,000 on full page ads in major newspapers, calling for New York to reinstate the death penalty for “criminals of every age”–and has referred to the young men as guilty as recently as last year, although DNA evidence has proved their innocence.
They admitted they were guilty,” he told CNN. “The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty. The fact that that case was settled with so much evidence against them is outrageous. And the woman, so badly injured, will never be the same.”
Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusuf Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise were freed in 2002, left to rebuild their lives after years behind bars. Spanning the years from 1989 to 2014, the miniseries will focus on each stage of the case and how the criminal justice system failed them all.
“This is one of the most talked-about cases of our time,” said Cindy Holland, Netflix’s VP of original content. “Ava’s passionate vision and masterful direction will bring the human stories behind the headlines to life in this series. After powerfully reframing the public conversation about criminality and injustice in 13th, Ava now turns a new lens to a case that exposes deep flaws in our criminal justice system.”