Crooked City

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Gang Leader Calls Porter Exoneration a Fraud, Says It's Not the Only One...

When the inmates at Illinois Department of Corrections watched Anthony Porter walk out of death row in 1999 a free man, they knew a new day had dawned in their lives as well, no matter how heinous their crimes. If Porter could get out, they figured, anyone could. One of the inmates who watched Porter walk free was Ricky Shaw, a top member in the Black P-Stones, who was serving a 25-year sentence for several robberies. 

Shaw holds a unique perspective on the Porter case and the wrongful conviction movement in general. He grew up around Porter and knew what kind of person Porter was. He describes how most inmates didn't believe Porter was innocent of the murders and certainly didn't believe that Alstory Simon was guilty of them, even though Northwestern University activists had obtained a "confession" from Simon.

As a top member of the Black P-Stones, Shaw also held the confidence of several other inmates who claimed they were tortured into confessing and were released, including Aaron Patterson and Darrell Cannon, both men convicted of murder. Shaw describes how these inmates conned the system into getting out.

Though Shaw testified in the trial of Jon Burge and has made himself available to talk to the media, no one, he said, has ever taken him up on it. The lack of interest among Chicago's media is strange: How often does a top gang leader come forward with crucial information about wrongful conviction cases?