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Franky Carrillo    

Human Rights Advocate; Equality & Injustice Advocate; Famed Exoneree

Franky Carrillo had dreams of growing up a fairly normal adolescence. He never dreamed that he would be the subject of criminal proceedings. At 16, he had just learned of his girlfriend's unexpected pregnancy when he was arrested as the prime suspect for a crime he did not commit. Franky was tried as an adult and found guilty of murder, despite his continual assertion that he was innocent. He was sentenced to live out the remainder of his life in prison.

During his incarceration Franky never lost hope in himself, the judicial system, or his unwavering faith. He knew that he needed to be patient for the right people to come into his life to help him. One of those people included his son. What once seemed like a problem was his greatest blessing, as his son became the driving force to keep his positive outlook. Franky took advantage of the time he had to continue to educate himself about everything happening in the outside world. He studied, earned his GED, and eventually helped teach classes. He became a certified optician and a Braille transcriber certified by the Library of Congress. He worked transcribing documents, making $1 an hour. His other jobs, including cooking and sewing, yielded about 15 cents an hour.

With his will to live, he persevered and began a series of efforts to prove his innocence. One of the teachers he assisted was retiring when Franky asked her to find someone to help his case. She helped him find legal representation with the Innocence Project. With their assistance during the next several years, Franky's efforts finally came true. He was exonerated on March 16, 2011, when all six eye witnesses recanted their statements, admitting they had been influenced by the police. The lead prosecutor took the stand and broke into tears, finally admitting that they knew Franky was never guilty.

Franky, after a long period of facing the realities of injustice, has re-emerged as a champion of equality and justice. He is currently a full time student at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Franky also lobbies both federal and state legislators for juvenile fair sentencing and brings hope to the incarcerated by visiting them in juvenile halls, jails, and prisons. He has become an advocate for California's Yes on Proposition 34 to replace the death penalty with life in prison because of the risk of executing an innocent person. He hopes that by continuing his education, both personally in academically, he can focus on living a healthy, happy, purposeful life that can inspire change in people and maybe even the judicial system.

Speech Topics

Civil Liberties & The Pursuit of Equality

At 15 years old, when the sheriff’s deputies, with guns drawn, stormed the front door of his home, Franky knew something was terribly wrong. A “gang” of corrupt and racist Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies—known as the “Lynwood Vikings”—coerced key witnesses into identifying him in a photo lineup for the killing of a local man. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to two consecutive life terms. After nearly 20 years of writing letters and working with a pro-bono attorney, the six witnesses who wrongfully identified him recanted their statements, and he was released from prison. Having more than 200 innocent people locked up for crimes they did not commit since 1989 and 123 exonerations, California exceeds every other state when it comes to wrongful convictions. Franky discusses the possibilities of ending the death penalty not only in California, but throughout the country in the hopes of saving the lives of innocent people just like him.

Cultural Perspectives: An Evening with Franky Carrillo

As a teenager, Franky Carrillo was known to his family and his community by his name. When wrongfully convicted for a crime he did not commit at the early age of 16, he was stripped of his nominal identification and became known in the prison system as a number–H56800. For many years, he struggled to answer the question “Who is Franky Carrillo?” Although he was stuck in a place he did not belong, Franky wouldn’t let it break him. He decided to keep the faith, using his perseverance to get his case overturned, after nearly 20 years in prison. As a free man, he has embraced the hand he was dealt and works tirelessly in the hopes that he can continue to define himself as more than H56800.


Vista LA: Inside look behind Franky Carillo's road to vindication ...
Watch the video Vista LA: Inside look behind Franky Carillo's road to vindication on Yahoo News . Vista L.A. delves into the moving stories of local inspirational ...

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