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April 20, 2014

Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, R.I.P.

by Dan Rodriguez

Rubin Carter died this morning at age 76.  Immortalized in Bob Dylan’s song from the mid-70’s and in a film several years ago in which he was portrayed by Denzel Washington, Rubin was exonerated for a triple murder he didn’t commit.  Sadly, this came after many years of incarceration.

When I was dean at the University of San Diego, my wife and I have the great pleasure and honor of meeting and spending time with Rubin.  He came to USD at the behest of our colleague, Judge Lee Sarokin, the federal judge who released Carter from prison after overwhelming evidence showed his innocence.  Carter, ebullient, sensitive, and at peace, spoke easily and movingly about his experience.  For all the years following his release, he campaigned tirelessly on behalf of criminal justice reform, efforts to release the wrongly convicted, and against the death penalty.

His legacy, like the legacy of others wrongfully convicted, endures through their powerful stories and, in the case of Rubin and so many others, through their voices on behalf of justice and against injustice.  And, in a concrete way, it endures through the good works of initiatives such as our Center on Wrongful Convictions and other importance advocacy groups.

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