HARLEM — The mother of one of the Central Park Five will lead an eight-day "Mother's Day March" from Harlem to Albany that sets out on Sunday.
Sharonne Salaam, mother of Yusef Salaam, who was wrongfully imprisoned for the brutal 1989 beating and rape of a Central Park jogger, is leading a group of mothers and grandmothers from the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building on 125th Street to the state capital.
The 150-mile journey is intended to bring attention to the number of people who have been wrongfully imprisoned.
"The families of those incarcerated suffer and the ones who went to jail suffer irreparable harm," said Salaam, whose son spent 5 1/2 years in prison for a conviction that was later overturned.
"We get no support to help us put our lives back together after this kind of ordeal. We are just left to fend for ourselves.
“More and more people are being exonerated. It’s time that the government put in place some sort of compensation for the exonerated and their families."
The convictions for the five teens jailed for the April 19, 1989 attack were overturned in 2002 after convicted rapist Matias Reyes confessed to the crime, and DNA evidence proved his guilt. The city eventually reached a $41 million settlement with the five wrongfully convicted men.
Salaam said the government should consider $1 million per year of imprisonment as the minimum standard of compensation for a wrongfully convicted person.
The group also wants legislative reform regarding eyewitness identification, changes to access to DNA evidence, a law requiring interrogations to be recorded and the preservation of evidence.
The group will take a route that will take them through the Bronx and Yonkers into Tarrytown. They'll then head north on Route 9 and 9A to cross the Hudson River then Route 9W to Catskill and then to Albany.
The group is expected to arrive in Albany on May 15. The following day, members hope to speak directly with state lawmakers in the Capitol Building.