After serving four years of a 15-year sentence for a crime he didn’t commit, Peekskill resident Jamar Smythe, sits down with BW’s Editor-In-Chief, AJ Woodson for an exclusive interview to tell his story.
When a black man gets arrested, he is dehumanized by the media. He is often referred to by many things other than his name, the same can be said even when it’s a black man who was the victim of police misconduct. When Jamar Smythe had his drug conviction vacated and was released from prison Tuesday, April 21st, Lohud started off their coverage of his release with the words ‘a state inmate from Peekskill.’ I don’t even think it’s done purposefully, but it’s become the standard operating procedure of the press. Either way, it’s dehumanizing.
When Smythe invited us to his home to exclusively share his story with us, we thought is was important to introduce you the reader to Jamar, the father, the husband, the hard-working family man, you know the Jamar Smythe you have yet to meet in the press. The image of a black man you rarely hear or read about even, if he has never been to jail. We wanted to re-humanize the man.
Getting arrested for a crime you didn’t commit is one thing, many black men have experienced that, unfortunately. But to sit in a courtroom watching the arresting officer circumventing the system and fabricating the truth against you to get a conviction. Hearing the prosecutor ask the judge for 30 years and then hearing the judge say 15 years and slam down the gavel. What must be going through your mind? To add insult to injury once you get released because the arresting officer who lied against you gets indicted for falsifying search warrant affidavits, you watch that officer get sentenced to EIGHT weekends of jail time.
Then you have the prosecutor, who agreed your sentence should be vacated in one breath, asking the judge for a conference to determine if the evidence against you can still be salvaged so they can retry you despite the fact the officers are no longer seen as credible witnesses, in another breath.
You are home, but you’re not totally free. You have to return to court a few weeks later to see if you will be tried again before you can truly begin to move on with your life. Somehow you have to find a way to still put your faith in the flawed justice system, that has already failed you once and stay positive so you pick up the pieces of your life and reunite with your family.
We wanted to answer these questions and more when we had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Smythe. Watch the video below for the exclusive interview, the only interview he has done since his release and find out what he is feeling, what he was thinking, what got him through it all while he was locked up and what was the first thing he wanted to do when he got home. Check out The Jamar Smythe Interview!