Unspeakable Times

An Innocent Man Spent 17 Years Locked Up Only To Find A Doppelgänger With Same Name In The Same Jail

Although the criminal justice system attempts to serve justice to deserving lawbreakers, there are a lot of cases that end up wrongfully sentenced and innocent people go to jail. Remember Adnan Syed, the prisoner infamously featured on the NPR podcast Serial? He made waves in 2014 when journalist Sarah Koenig investigated his story and made a controversial case for how he may in fact be innocent. Many similar stories come to mind. 

But an innocent man who went to jail and then met his potentially guilty doppelgänger? That sounds like the plot of a Hollywood thriller. Yet it's the true story of Richard Anthony Jones, a man from Kansas City, Missouri, who was convicted in 1999 of robbing a woman in a Walmart parking lot in Kansas and given a 19 year prison sentence — of which he served 17 of those years. In prison, while maintaining his innocence, he encountered another inmate who looked like him and even had the same first name. Jones's conviction was finally overturned after two years of fighting a legal battle and working with The Innocence Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people who have been wrongly convicted. 

Jones's story captured the attention of many, and once he was released he quickly raised a large amount of money through a GoFundMe page. He's happy to be reunited with his family, but the question looms large of whether the justice system is really doing its best to actually promote justice.