One Man’s Story on Freedom and the Pursuit of Truth

By 8th Grade English teacher David Fuder
Earlier this week, 8th grade students met with Jacques Rivera, a man who was wrongfully incarcerated for more than 20 years, and heard his story. Students are reaching the end of reading Just Mercy in their English classes, and this was an opportunity to listen to and engage with someone whose experience was similar to those in the book by Bryan Stevenson.

Rivera shared the circumstances that led to his wrongful arrest in 1988 and eventual sentencing for a murder he did not commit, as well as the work it took to be exonerated and pronounced innocent in 2012. Rivera shared how the actions of others shaped his life and his perspective that “truth will eventually come out—it hurts but it heals.”

He now devotes his time to support those who are facing circumstances like his to change the justice system for the better. Alongside him were Parker parents Marjorie Berk Moss and Ali Flaum, who were instrumental in securing his release through their work with the Center on Wrongful Convictions through Northwestern University’s Bluhm Legal Clinic.

Students asked Rivera great questions and had much to contemplate further about our carceral system and how we treat one another.

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Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.