3 of the ‘Central Park Five’ finally get to attend high school graduation

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Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson and Raymond Santana Jr., three members of the Central Park Five, were unable to attend their high school graduation years ago because they were in prison for a crime that they did not commit.

But on Monday, all three were awarded honorary diplomas from Bronx Preparatory High School.

“Even though we were not able to go back and right the wrong of not getting our high school diplomas outside, here we are being honored in such a way in front of our family and friends,” Salaam said from the stage. “This is a blessing.”

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In 1989, the Central Park Five were a group of teenagers who were jailed for the brutal rape of a woman who had been jogging in Central Park. However, all five were exonerated over a decade later after DNA evidence proved that they were not involved and another man, Matias Reyes, confessed to the crime.

Since that time, all five have settled with New York City in settlements costing the city $45 million.

Although all three had received GED’s and associates degrees while in prison, they had not had the chance to attend a graduation ceremony, which is why the school decided to honor them on Monday so that they could have the life experience that was taken from them so long ago.

“It’s kind of emotional,” Santana said, adding, “When we went to prison, this was taken away from us. It was something we never got to experience. You felt like you were being robbed, and we’ve finally found redemption.”