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March 8, 2024 14 mins

An innocent man shares more about his 31 year prison sentence for a crime he didn't commit and tells the story about the support team that helped to secure his freedom. The Rickey Godfre story. Part 2.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Yes, I was.

Speaker 2 (00:00):
I was charged as the actual person that committed this crime,
when in fact I wasn't the actual person that committed
this crime.

Speaker 3 (00:06):
Ricky Godfree's story, Part two. He served thirty one years
in a California prison for a murder he didn't commit.
Now on black Land and.

Speaker 4 (00:15):
Now as a brown person, you just feels so invisible.

Speaker 5 (00:20):
Where we're from, brothers and sisters.

Speaker 4 (00:24):
I welcome you to this joyful and.

Speaker 2 (00:25):
Day we celebrate freedom.

Speaker 1 (00:27):
Where we are, I know someone heard something and where
we're going.

Speaker 5 (00:33):
We the people means all the people.

Speaker 2 (00:36):
The Black Information that work presents Blackland with your host
Vanessa Tyler.

Speaker 3 (00:51):
Ricky Godfrey says cops ignored, even threatened those who could
have exonerated him, ignored witnesses who recanted. In the previous
episode of Blackland, he tells how back in nineteen ninety two,
he was hanging out with the wrong crowd in Richmond, California,
selling drugs, yes, but murder no. A nearly all white
jury gave him life with no possibility of parole for

the shooting death of another black man. One of the
teens with him shot the victim dead. They pinned it
on him. Now he's on a mission to clear his name.
We pick up his story with how he finally got out,
a process unlocking prison cells for many other innocent people
behind bars. We're just a teen, you're a kid. What

about your parents and all of this.

Speaker 2 (01:39):
So doing that particular time, Okay, So my dad, you know,
he ran the streets too, so he was on drugs
at the time. My mom was too, My grandmother was too.
So they would ask me, you know, did I commit
this crime? And I would tell him, and they would
tell me that they believe me, you know, and then
there would be whispers, you know in the community, you

know that that boy didn't do that.

Speaker 1 (02:02):
And then so for the song, but no one really
had the resources or the strength, you know, so to
speak to really you know, further.

Speaker 2 (02:14):
Investigate and to contribute to, you know, finding out finding
out what that what that truth truth was, you know.
So they kind of like just went on about their lives,
you know, not saying that they didn't think about me,
or that they stopped loving me or anything like that.
But they had their lives to live, and uh, I'm
quite sure it was. It was just as tough on

them as it was for me.

Speaker 3 (02:36):
It's the hardest time of all to actually sit there
and know that you're innocent. That's enough to make someone
literally lose their minds. But he held on for thirty one years.

Speaker 1 (02:49):
You know, I found strength. I found strength in my faith,
you know, and that carried me too through you know,
my grandfather.

Speaker 2 (02:58):
You know, I lost him as well, you know, and
he was one of my uh few champions, you know,
in my life, and you know that was always there
until the time me he passed, he lost his life.
And uh, he used to always tell me, hey, you know,
educate yourself. You know, because I came in with a
with a fourth grade education. I dropped out a public

school in the fifth grade, so I never went further
than that, you know.

Speaker 1 (03:22):
So he used to say, hey, educate yourself.

Speaker 5 (03:25):
You know.

Speaker 1 (03:25):
They can have your body, but they can't have your mind.

Speaker 2 (03:28):
And I eventually, uh set out to get my ged
you know, and I eventually set out to get my
paralegal diploma. And that's what really drove me, you know,
to to really like get on get on the path
of turning.

Speaker 1 (03:45):
This whole case, you know, upside down.

Speaker 2 (03:47):
And I wasn't gonna stop, you know, And and to
my death, my beautiful wife.

Speaker 1 (03:52):
You know, she she still beside me. She still beside me,
you know for ten years.

Speaker 5 (03:56):
And was your wife?

Speaker 3 (03:58):
Did you meet her while you were behind.

Speaker 2 (04:00):
Yes, ten years ago. So I met her through through
her cousin, and uh, from that point she really wasn't
interested in you know, Uh dating No one who was
incarcerated is particularly no especially no one that had a
life without the possibility of parole sentence who was claiming
that they were innocent, you know what I mean. But
as time progressed, and you know, I began to show

the case and she began to read the case, and
seeing what I was talking about, it became clear to
it that I'm innocent of this crime. Not only am
I innocent, but they played a dirty game and in
formulating that, uh, that wrong for conviction. So it became
clear to it, and she became a champion, uh in
this pursuit of justice.

Speaker 3 (04:40):
We are speaking with Ricky Godfrey in one of his
first interviews after being left to rot in a California
prison for life.

Speaker 2 (04:50):
And it's it's it's a it's a it's an uphill battle,
you know, but thanks to the like of a community
x Chloye and her team. Uh, Portia Taylor f I
oh prison from the inside out. You know, they were
instrumental in assisting me, Jamilli Land you know, from a
shop organization, Sophia Jackson, you know, uh, the these people

were instrumental in facilitating a real good support team, you know,
for me, and and I am forever grateful for that.

Speaker 3 (05:21):
Also joining us, We're glad to have the CEO and
founder of Community X, Chloe Chyenne.

Speaker 5 (05:28):
Chloe, Welcome, Hi, Vanessa, Thanks for having me, Joy Chloe.

Speaker 3 (05:33):
You know Ricky's story, It's a story we hear a lot.
What's going on?

Speaker 4 (05:39):
You know, I think that the massive incarceration issue in
this country is still yet to be resolved.

Speaker 5 (05:47):
The law is not applied.

Speaker 4 (05:50):
Evenly and equitively to everybody who lives here, and so unfortunately,
you see many instances like Ricky Godfrey's case, where you
have an innocent person behind bars for multiple decades of
their life. And so I think the question for us

is not only how do we start to decarcerate the population,
but how do we compensate and make things right for
people who are innocent and have spent the majority of
their lives in prison. Because a big part of Ricky's
case that I don't think we covered here is that

we're actually asking for the conviction to be dropped from
his record and for the parole to be dropped as well,
because again, we're looking at somebody who's completely innocent. So
it doesn't make sense for him to have a record
if he was innocent, and it doesn't make sense for
him to be on parole if he was innocent and
he's already served his time.

Speaker 3 (06:53):
Compensation, let's talk about that a little bit. How likely
are people who are put behind bars innocently to be compensated?
How much? I know some states have caps. What's that
process like?

Speaker 4 (07:11):
You know, it's not an easy process by any means,
and it's not an immediate thing either, which you know,
from our perspective, it very well should be the moment
that people are, you know, who are wrongfully convicted, the
moment they're released from prison. Realistically, as a part of

that release, they should be immediately receiving compensation as they
go to re enter into the society that they should
have never been taken out of. So it's a it's
a process, and it's not easy. It is complicated, and
because of that, organizations like mine community X and like
Portia's prison from the inside out, have to work together

to actually create you know, us private citizens have to
work together to create re entry funds for people like
Ricky so that when he does get released from prison,
he's not totally you know, left out to dry.

Speaker 3 (08:10):
How is it to find employment? And I know Ricky
mentioned his situation that what the transition wasn't that bad,
but that's unusual. Usually sometimes it's it's very difficult. The
stigma's still there.

Speaker 4 (08:23):
Well, I think it's that there's a certain you know,
sector that's willing to take formally incarcerated individuals.

Speaker 5 (08:34):
But those jobs, as Ricky was saying, don't pay well
and they don't have great benefits.

Speaker 4 (08:40):
And so you know, this is if you really think
about Ricky's case, he has been in prison for the
majority of his working life, and so how much you know,
how do you quantify the missed opportunity and the miss
salary of thirty one years of somebody's life, you know,

so to to to experience that kind of loss and
then to come out into you know, the marketplace as
a formerly incarcerated person, as he said, making twenty dollars
an hour. Yes, the opportunities are there, but they're nowhere
near sufficient to be able to a make up for
that loss and be you know, sustain and build, you know,

a healthy and comfortable life after prison.

Speaker 3 (09:30):
Many states have this banned the box laws, meaning the
box on applications that ask about criminal history that helped.
Has that helped at all? And now you're seeing enough
states with that law.

Speaker 4 (09:45):
I think, you know, I think in places like California
it has helped to some extent. But again, I think,
you know, more industries need to adopt that type of mentality.
More industries need to be willing to open up their
doors not only to formally incarcerated individuals, but for people

who don't have a higher education as well. Like the
tech industry for instance, where you have a bunch of
white men who never graduated from college at all founding
and leading the companies.

Speaker 5 (10:19):
Why is it that it's okay for them.

Speaker 4 (10:21):
To have that type of background, but when you look
at black and brown candidates you have you know, five
times the requirements, it just really doesn't make sense. And
so I think that that's definitely a step in the
right direction, but you know, you really have to get
more industries involved.

Speaker 5 (10:40):
In in in that mentality.

Speaker 3 (10:43):
How busy is Community X meaning I know you're working
with Ricky, and I know you're probably working with a
lot of other men and women, mostly mostly African American,
mostly black.

Speaker 5 (10:56):

Speaker 4 (10:57):
Well, so yeah, we wepor it causes across the boards.
So whether it's you know, mass incarceration and prison reform issues,
or Indigenous rights, Native American issues, climate crisis issues, women's issues,
we kind of cover the full gamut of the cause spectrum.

And so we're actually just working with directly impacted people
no matter who they are, not only in the US
but around the world, and we're using our technology to
help build awareness campaigns for them, to help raise money
for them, to help, you know, get petitions to decision
makers so that they can see the justice that they need.

So we're getting you know, about twenty new campaigns a
week at this point, and it just keeps increasing.

Speaker 3 (11:48):
Chloe Shyanne, thank you for what you do. How can
people who need your help reach you?

Speaker 4 (11:54):
Yeah, So our website is Community X dot com. We
have a mobile app on the app Store in the
Place store, and then we have a site that we
specifically built for Ricky, which is Justice The number for
r c k Y Ricky dot com, so Justice for
Ricky dot Com, where you can donate to his re

entry fund and you can also sign his petition.

Speaker 3 (12:33):
Did you always know you were gonna get out? Even
after twenty nine years thirty thirty one? Did you always
know you would get out?

Speaker 2 (12:44):
I always knew I would get out. I never lost that.
I never lost that vision, I never lost that attitude.
I always knew that I would get out. And the
reason is because I didn't do anything. So I knew
that I would get out. I just didn't know exactly
when I would get out. But you know, people said

always ask my wife, particularly Anicia Gaffer, She's always ask me, honey,
do you think that they're.

Speaker 1 (13:11):
Gonna do the right thing, They're gonna let you out.
I'd be like, absolutely yes.

Speaker 2 (13:28):
I say, when they don't get to make the decision.
God get to make the decision. So I leve and
I believe with that, you know what I mean. And
I always always felt that the day would come. Like
I said, I just didn't know exactly when that day
would come.

Speaker 3 (13:43):
Now, with the fresh air of freedom and a new life,
Ricky Godfrey at forty nine makes up for the seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years, decades.
Of the thirty one years spent on the bad side
of the wall, I'm Vanessa Tyler. Join me next time
on black Land.
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