Rubin Carter's Final Wrenching Wish: To Live In A World Where Truth Matters and Justice, However Late, Happens

Abby Zimet

Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, the former middleweight boxer who spent 20 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit, is dying. Heartbreaking in itself, but then this: His final wish is to get justice for Brooklyn's David McCallum, jailed 29 years ago at 16 after a controversial murder conviction based on a sketchy, quickly recanted confession and virtually no forensic evidence - as Carter puts it, a verdict, like his own, "predicated on racism rather than reason, and concealment rather than disclosure.” Having only recently revealed he is dying of prostate cancer, Carter is asking a newly elected district attorney to "look straight in the eye of truth," and reopen the case. McCallum entered prison just two weeks before Carter was released - "reborn into the miracle of this world" - and moved to Toronto, where he headed the Association in Defense of the Wrongly Convicted, spoke about justice issues and earned an honorary doctorate in law. His work freed about 20 people; the U.S. Innocence Proect has freed over 300. Studies estimate that between 2.3% and 5% of all prisoners in the U.S. - or up to 100,000 - are innocent, and with scientific advances in investigative techniques, more appear all the time, sometimes too late. Carter's group has represented McCallum since 2004; he says his only regret is not yet having freed him.

“If I find a heaven after this life, I’ll be quite surprised,” Carter writes. “In my own years on this planet, though, I lived in hell for the first 49 years, and have been in heaven for the past 28 years. To live in a world where truth matters and justice, however late, really happens - that would be heaven enough for us all.

McCallum in prison

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