FRancisco Carrillo, who spent nearly two decades in prison before his wrongful conviction was overturned in 2011, announced his campaign for a congressional seat in California on Wednesday.
Carillo, who appeared in the Netflix documentary series The Innocence Files, is running as a Democrat to represent the 27th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives.
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“I know what it feels like to be ignored, marginalized, forgotten,” Carrillo said in his announcement video. “There are people who abuse their power and benefit from the system. Then there are the rest of us. We play by the rules and get screwed by the exact same system. That’s why I’m running for Congress against Rep. Mike Garcia [R-CA].”
When I was 16, I was sent to prison for a crime I didn’t commit.
I turned 20, but I never gave up – I fought a rigged system and won my freedom.
I’m running for Congress to reform the rigged systems that are leaving working Californians behind.
Join me: https://t.co/hJj4gOtl4F pic.twitter.com/pRvNUorrVc
— Franky Carrillo (@carrillofranky) April 19, 2023
Carrillo was arrested after a shooting at the age of 16 after police mistakenly identified him in a different case, according to the documentary. He was convicted of murder and six counts of attempted murder in 1992 and sentenced to life in prison. However, Carrillo was exonerated in 2011 because most of the witnesses recanted their testimony and other men confessed to the crimes.
District 27 is considered a battleground district after it went to President Joe Biden in 2020, but voted for the more conservative Garcia in 2022. The district is a target for Democrats in 2024 as they try to take back the House in next.
Carrillo, who serves on the Los Angeles County Probation Oversight Commission, said his campaign will focus on criminal justice reform and economic justice.
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“[I want] for them to know that there are people who can endure, there are good people who will come to the aid of others,” Carrillo told CNN. “And ultimately, there are people who have been harmed by the systems, and social justice can prevail . We definitely need to think of this no longer as punishment but more reform and be more compassionate to those who made a momentary mistake in most cases.”
Former NASA chief of staff George Whitesides has also announced a campaign for the Democratic nomination.