'To Make Them Pay For What They Done To Me'

More

Here's a horrifying story of a man accused of rape, identified in a line-up, convicted, sent to jail for 27 years, where he fought constantly, and then exonerated by DNA. Of course, it's in Texas, which has a regrettable penchant for this sort of thing:


Since a judge let him out of prison for a rape that prosecutors now say he did not commit, Michael A. Green has had trouble sleeping. 

 Late at night, he walks the neat, quiet sidewalks in the neighborhood where he is staying with an aunt, chain-smoking cigarettes, his mind spinning furiously with questions about why he was convicted 27 years ago and how to spend what is left of his life. 

He also ponders, he says, whether to take a $2.2 million compensation payment from the State of Texas or file a civil lawsuit in the hope of exposing the truth about the investigation that led to his incarceration. To receive the compensation, he must waive the right to sue.

I really hope he takes the money. That sounds weak. But after 27 years down under, the prospect of this dude getting nothing is just chilling. I admire his courage, but life is so short and so precious.

Whenever I read about exonerations in rape cases, like these, I think how horrible it must be for the woman who ID'ed the guy to begin with. It's awful enough to be raped. But then to know that you picked the wrong guy--with the help of the cops, surely--and sent him down for something he didn't do. I can't imagine carrying any of that.

And yet some people, with great courage, do.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

How have stories changed in the age of social media? The minds behind House of Cards, This American Life, and The Moth discuss.


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

The minds behind House of Cards and The Moth weigh in.

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down

More in National

From This Author

Just In