The jail population is filled with Black and Latinos, especially men. We all know that they make up the majority of the jail population. However, not all of them are guilty. There are several who are serving time for crimes that they did not commit. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, Black people only represent approximately 13% of the U.S. population, but they accumulate a whooping 47% of the 1,900 exonerations in the registry.  Out of that 47 precent, MarQueasha Rhodes’ uncle, Zhivago Rhodes, is one of the innocent suffering behind bars because of our flawed justice system. 

“Why would God put an innocent man in jail?” Zhivago Rhodes said to his niece after his conviction. “What good comes out of doing this?”

I recently chatted with  MarQueasha about her uncle’s case and what she is trying to do to turn things around. Check out the interview below: 

Can you tell myself and the readers about your uncle and family?

Myself and family included will tell you we are a very close family and my uncle was the glue that held us together. He was always there for physical, emotional and financial support for his loved ones. He the absolute best person we know and he would never do what he’s being accused of. We stand by him 100 precent.

What crime did the legal system false accuse your uncle of committing?

Sexual misconduct. 

What circumstantial did they present to convict him?

The only evidence provided against him are the words of the victim with no physical evidence. 

What was their reason behind denying him a retrial?

We are still currently trying to get a retrial. His Sentencing is on Thursday, July 5. After that we plan on filling for an Appeal.

Are there any petitions we can sign or protest we can attend?
Yes, we have started one and you can sign it here
 
Experiencing this injustice so close to home, what is your opinion of the legal system and prison reform?
 
As a person who has lived in a small farm town and a big city, I definitely see the harsh punishment and obvious racism in this small community. People are scared of poc here when we are the ones who should be afraid. My uncle is literally the very last person I’d suspect to do something like this, but he had a target on his back the moment he walked into any room in this foul place.
 
Are there any words of wisdom or thoughts you would like to share with fellow millennials?
 
I just want to tell the millennials out there that racism is real and terrifying. You may see it on Instagram and Facebook, but it’s happening in real life probably right in front of your eyes everyday . I was one of those people who thought my family was safe. No one is safe tell something big happens and we all make a change. Please protect yourself and your loved ones and prayers up for families of Black men and woman wrongfully convicted or worse.