In 1998, Mario Rocha, a young Latino from East LA, was convicted of murder and attempted murder on the basis of one questionable identification and not a shred of physical evidence. He was sixteen years old at the time of his arrest, yet tried as an adult and sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. While spending over two years at Juvenile Hall waiting for his trial, Mario joined the Inside Out Writing Program and discovered his talent for writing. Today, his stories, plays, and poems are published and performed in prisons throughout the country.
This is so frustrating. The adage "being at the wrong place at the wrong time" was the one phrase that played in my head over and over again while sitting through this documentary.
I know it's hard to set aside time in your busy life to sit down and watch a true story that is frustrating and depressing but I think it's equally important that the filmmakers took the time to share Mario's story and for people to take the time and watch and listen. It's eye opening and scary to realize that our justice system has failed one of it's citizens.
We only have one justice system and we actually depend on it heavily and expect it to both protect us and we should be able to have faith in it's intentions and it's practice. The problem is that behind our system, there are people and people are both good and bad, and are fallible.
I hope you set some time in your busy day to watch this. Even if you walk away feeling helpless like I did, at least it will introduce us to an amazing man like Mario, and to remind us of how important being in the right place and right time is and how devastating being at the wrong time at the wrong place can be.
UPDATE on Mario can be found here.
Mario's Story on Netflix
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