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Wednesday, April 14, 2021
On April 19, 1989, a young woman in the prime of her life was brutally raped and left for dead in New York City’s Central Park. Five boys—four black and one Latino—were tried and convicted of the crime in a frenzied case that rocked the city. They became known collectively as “The Central Park Five.”
Their convictions were vacated in 2002 after spending between seven (7) and thirteen (13) years of their lives behind bars. The unidentified DNA in the Central Park Jogger Case, unlinked to any of the five, had finally met its owner, a convicted murderer and serial rapist who confessed. The convictions of the boys, now men, were overturned and they were exonerated. One of those boys, Yusef Salaam, was just 15 years old when his life was upended and changed forever.
Since his release, Yusef has committed himself to advocating and educating people on the issues of false confessions, police brutality and misconduct, press ethics and bias, race and law, and the disparities in America’s criminal justice system. In 2013, documentarians Ken and Sarah Burns released the documentary “The Central Park Five,” which told of this travesty from the perspective of Yusef and his cohorts.
In 2014, The Central Park Five received a multi-million dollar settlement from the city of New York for its grievous injustice against them. Yusef was awarded an Honorary Doctorate that same year and received the President's Life Time Achievement Award in 2016 from President Barack Obama.
He was appointed to the board of the Innocence Project in 2018, and has released a Netflix Feature limited series called “When They See Us” based on the true story of the “Central Park Five” with Ava DuVernay, Oprah Winfrey and Robert De Niro, in May of 2019.
Thursday, April 15, 2021
Robin S. Engel, Ph.D.
Robin S. Engel, Ph.D. is Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Cincinnati (UC) and Director of the International Association of Chiefs of Police / UC Center for Police Research and Policy. She recently served as UC’s Vice President for Safety and Reform, where her administrative duties included oversight of the daily operations and reform efforts of the University of Cincinnati Police Division. Dr. Engel engages in police research and evaluation, with expertise in empirical assessments of police behavior, police-community relations, and crime reduction strategies. She promotes best practices in policing by establishing academic-practitioner partnerships, and has served as Principal Investigator for over 80 research grants; she has been ranked among top academics, and the number one female in the field of criminal justice/criminology based on publications in prestigious peer-reviewed journals. Her work on violence reduction resulted in several prominent team awards including the 2008 IACP/Motorola Webber Seavey Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement, the 2009 IACP/West Award for Excellence in Criminal Investigations, and the 2008 National Criminal Justice Association’s Outstanding Criminal Justice Program Award. She has served as an expert on policing and violence reduction on panels convened at the White House and 10 Downing Street. In 2017, Dr. Engel was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award from the School of Criminal Justice at the University at Albany, and in 2018 was appointed by Governor John Kasich (reappointed in 2019 by Governor Mike DeWine) to the Ohio Collaborative Community-Police Advisory Board. She also currently serves as the co-chair of IACP’s Research Advisory Committee.