Part 3 consists of the exonerated five living their lives after prison. Four of the five boys spend six to seven years in prison and had to live with being convicted felons. Part three is a telling of the court system and how it ensnares people. This Is When They See Us part 3.
We go through watching four of the five boys, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana Jr, Yusef Salaam, and Antron McRae. In this episode, you get to see the way that the court system will convict felons and attempt to keep them from living and moving on with their lives. I’m not too familiar with the justice/ court system. However, I do know that the court system when it comes to convicted felons will not allow them to get jobs easily. And I’m being modest when I say easily. You see it with Raymond Santana attempting to get a job and his PO telling him that he can’t work with convicted felons, he can’t be seen around convicted felons either. Otherwise, He’ll go to jail. He can’t get a job, in the episode you witnessed him attempting to get one and people kept saying no essentially. You saw the lives people had to live after being convicted as Raymond came back to his family completely different. His father had a wife who didn’t like him, thought he was a rapist. Judged him, vehemently attempted to force him into acting out. You saw Antron’s Saga, where he ended up having to dodge and avoid people. And then end up getting into an argument with his girlfriend, where she said she’d live her life if she were a convicted felon and free. And then Antron responded saying you don’t know what you would do. At that moment you can tell this was a struggle. Antron was struggling just trying to be a regular citizen, and his girlfriend couldn’t understand what was going on in his life. People who aren’t convicted felons they don’t understand how it feels to have to duck and Dodge people, how to just be normal. And this moment you saw it you saw how devastating it was.
You get to see Yusef Salaam struggle with getting out. His first coming back party was intense. He stuck to himself, didn’t say much he looked like a man out of time, a man out of place. They all did and it was hurtful to see. All around the country even to this day men and women are convicted felons and struggle with being free. Even those that committed crimes and atone for their sins and are trying to get back into the working world struggling with being out of time and out of place. Wanting to get jobs and be upstanding citizens.
But the justice system is a plague, it’s a succubus designed to bring you back in because that’s where the money is. Why would you send someone to prison to work for free almost and then want them to get back to society? Someone who works for a living and makes money and becomes a capitalist. No, that’s how capitalism works, that’s how this country works. We don’t allow others to benefit from capitalism, we make them work for us to gain profit. This was a revelation of a bigger problem in America that those who are convicted felons become victims to a system. A system that is designed to detain and keep a stranglehold on those that have been placed inside of it. This is the land of the free home of the brave. These are the lives of the exonerated five.
The vulnerability in this episode was intense. Watching each and every one of these men adjust to being “free”, trying to live their lives was uncontrollably uncomfortable. Trying to get girlfriends, get jobs, and just become regular citizens was the toughest thing anyone could ever watch.
Raymond had to turn to selling drugs just to survive. He struggled with family issues because people actually believed that he committed that crime. Antron had to be cheap, didn’t really want to go see the world he was just trying to get back into it. Yusef oddly adjusted really well. Although he struggled initially as you can see in the barbershop conversation hearing a lot of people telling him that his life is really going to be tough. He wanted to go teach, but because he’s a convicted felon he couldn’t get that opportunity because he couldn’t go get his license to teach. However, that did not stop him. The best scene in my eyes was when he and Kevin Richardson reunited at the group meeting. When the woman attempted to make Kevin Richardson admit to a crime that he did not commit. Then Yusef stood up for his boy and told her they are not allowed to speak on this on their case. It resulted in the two of them getting kicked out, however, it revealed Yusef’s resolve. This gave Kevin the confidence to stick with him. It was a scene that would make you smile because you saw the strength of these two black men in this moment of vulnerability. You also got to learn that Yusef got married and see the strength that he has.
I think the most painful sight in this episode was watching Antron and his father. Anton’s father was getting sick and losing a lot of body functions. He felt so guilty about helping his son end up going to jail for 7 years.
He wanted to make it up to him in any way he could. And so many times Antron avoided him, ignored him, just plain out tried to stay away. There was so much resentment, so much pain in that man. He was also the first to go and try to move to Georgia soon as he got the opportunity to. The scene where his father fell over and Antron had to pick him up, I think that was the most powerful scene in the entire episode. I wouldn’t say he forgave his father, but to have the strength to pick his own father up after his father let him down so many years ago. That right there was a tear-jerker. The very man that caused your downfall is on his last breath almost. You get to watch him slowly die as the hate within you rises. Each and every single day you see him. At the same time, that’s still your father, and I think it was just a natural instinct for Antron to pick him up. To me, it doesn’t show forgiveness, but it showed immense strength.
At the end of the episode, Raymond ends up going to jail because he gets caught up selling drugs. You get to witness the cycle of this justice system that continuously pulls in these black and brown men, forcing them to do things is not too proud of in order to survive. You’re forced to go and sell drugs or steal just to put food on your plate at night. Can’t get a job, can’t go to school, and so many people look at you especially with a case this popular. They know your face, they know we shouldn’t hire this man. This is When They See Us part 3 review