I’ve written numerous times about my penpal Lacino Hamilton with whom I’ve been in contact for the past two years (here’s the most recent article he sent me that I posted), and today he was exonerated and released from prison after 26 years!!! Lacino was wrongfully incarcerated when he was 19 (he’s now 45 years old) after a jailhouse informant testified he’d admitted to murdering his foster mother Willa Bias. Even though the informant had previously implicated other people in exchange for leniency in their time, Lacino was incarcerated for 26 years (he was in jail since 1994 and sentenced in 1996). He was sentenced with second-degree murder and felony firearm charges for 50-80 years and lost his appeals with both the Michigan Court of Appeals and the state Supreme Court. However, Lacino never gave up fighting or telling his story to anyone who’d listen. He became a widely published writer who wrote most of his articles for the independent news site Truthout (here’s his author page!), which was where I first read about his incarceration and found his contact information. Lacino was represented most recently by Mary Chartier and Takura Nyamfukudza who worked to get the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Conviction Integrity Unit to test DNA material under Bias’ fingernails, since she reportedly fought back against the person who murdered her. After testing just some of the swabbed fingernails, Lacino was proven innocent. Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Tracy Green vacated Lacino’s 26-year conviction, so today, he walked out of Macomb Correctional Facility a free man (this is the story of his conviction)! There was no better news I could have ever received! Although it’s essential we recognize how unforgivable it is to incarcerate someone who’s innocent of any harm committed, it’s just as deplorable to lock away people who do “bad” things. Corresponding with Lacino is one of the main reasons why I’m a PIC abolitionist today. He’s constantly demonstrated why he believes in abolition and how it’s connected to every aspect of this racist capitalist society. After 26 years locked up, Lacino will obviously need such help getting back on his feet. Because of the massive need, his friend Richard organized this GoFundMe campaign to help Lacino start over with as much financial assistance as possible. If you’re willing and able, please donate and/or share the GoFundMe far and wide. He needs rapid attention on his story and his exoneration and I know social media outlets are the best ways to share news. I’m hoping that Lacino will feel how loved and admired he is from new and old friends all across America. And I can only hope for more releases of those who haven’t and who have committed harm against others. We must abolish every cage and free them all! 20 million cheers and tears for Lacino!