Netflix’s newest true crime limited series, When They See Us, tells the story of five boys who were wrongly accused of a brutal rape and would be later referred to as the Central Park Five. It would be more than 10 years from the time the boys were convicted in 1990 until they would all be exonerated for the crime they didn't commit. But the recent series has shined new light on their story and has led many to wonder where the Central Park Five are today. After spending years in prison for a crime they didn't commit, the boys went on to make lives for themselves as adults. It wasn't easy to get there, however, especially since their exoneration came after four of them had already done their time behind bars.
Serial rapist Matias Reyes’ confession from prison is what led to the Central Park Five’s exoneration despite their pleas of not guilty at the time of their arrests in 1989. Because the boys were in the park at the same time of the attack and rape of jogger Trisha Meili, police immediately looked to them as suspects. They later confessed to the crime, though it was argued their confessions were coerced under extreme duress and none of their DNA was found near where the attack took place or on Meili. Later, it was determined that Reyes was a match for the only DNA found at the crime scene.
Although it took years for the boys to have their innocence proven, the Central Park Five have been able to move on from the horrific ordeal as much as can be expected.
McCray spent six years in prison before he was released and eventually exonerated of his crime in Central Park. Since being cleared, he got married and had six children. Today, he’s a bit more low-key than the rest of his friends, but in a recent interview with The New York Times, he admitted that "it was real painful" to relive the experience depicted in When They See Us.
"I did seven and a half years [including time spent detained during the trial] for something I didn’t do, and I just can’t get over it," he told the publication. "I’m damaged, you know? I know I need help. But I feel like I’m too old to get help now. I’m 45 years old, so I’m just focused on my kids."
Richardson was in prison for five and a half years for a crime he didn't commit. Now, however, he is married with two children and although he does have a social media presence, his Instagram is private, so it’s safe to say he prefers to keep some aspects of his life out of the spotlight. He does, however, regularly advocate for other wrongly imprisoned people through the Innocence Project.
These days, Salaam might be one of the more open of the Central Park Five. While they have all spoken about their experiences in the justice system after being cleared of such a heinous crime, Salaam regularly travels to speaking engagements to talk about changes he hopes to see in the justice system.
He has also used his experience to write poetry and in 2016, he was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from President Barack Obama. Salaam also has an honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Anointed by God Ministries Alliance & Seminary and his Instagram is a testament to his causes.
Santana spent five years in prison after the case. According to When They See Us, he now has a daughter and lives in Georgia, but his time spent in prison is still very much a part of who he is. In fact, he created a clothing line dedicated to his and the others’ false imprisonment called Park Madison NYC. The Instagram for the brand features T-shirts and hoodies dedicated to keeping awareness about the case alive.
Wise was the only one of the Central Park Five to be tried as an adult for the attack and rape of the jogger, as well as rioting, and served 12 years in prison. Since being exonerated of the crimes and being awarded part of the $41 million settlement from the State of New York which was given to the five men, he donated $190,000 to the student-run Innocence Project at the University of Colorado Law School. It was renamed the Korey Wise Innocence Project at Colorado Law.
There’s no denying that the Central Park Five went through a lot as teens and into adulthood. But somehow they were all able to rise up and move past their wrongful incarcerations as much as possible.