How Golf Art and Georgetown Saved Valentino Dixon
NATALIE ORSI: He was known as the Artist of Attica while serving a 27 year-long sentence at Attica Correctional Facility after he was convicted for the murder of Torriano Jackson. After 1400 weeks in prison, Valentino Dixon was released on September 19, 2018, with the help of Georgetown University’s Prisons and Justice Initiative program (PJI) which was founded to help wrongfully convicted members of our prison system.
Dixon came to talk to members of Georgetown yesterday, November 1, 2018, to share his story among hundreds in Gaston Hall.
In 1991, Dixon was convicted for the murder of Torriano Jackson. Multiple pieces of evidence suggested that Dixon had nothing to do with the murder that night as his DNA was not present on anything nor did he even have possession of a gun. In addition, soon after Dixon’s conviction, Lamarr Scott admitted and confessed to killing Jackson, but Dixon still remained in jail.
When Dixon first found out that Georgetown was involved with his case he said, “Once Georgetown was on board, I knew it was going to happen.”
Dixon had so much faith in the members of PJI that he knew he would be free be someday. He said he felt a sense of hope when he found out that not only were the members of PJI helping him out but the entire community of Georgetown.
Dixon knew he had to remain strong. After multiple of his appeals were denied, he said, “People kept recommending settling for clemency, but my spirit told me no. I knew we had to go for the homerun!”
While in prison, Dixon turned to art as an outlet. He created thousands of drawings, specifically of golf courses, throughout his sentence and believes it is the reason why he is here today. He said, “Art is what kept me strong, it invigorated my spirit. I don’t know where I would be today without it.” Dixon also adds, “Golf art saved me, Georgetown set me free.”
When Dixon was first released, he couldn’t fully celebrate his freedom because he knew that there are still millions of people suffering like he was.
For the future, Dixon is ready to make a change to our prison system. He said, “I view exoneration as a rebirth of life.” He hopes to bring a different perspective to the criminal justice reform and continue to share his story. Dixon will continue to fight for those unjustly incarcerated because he knows what it is like for your voice to be neither heard nor understood.
Dixon says, “I just want to be able to enlighten people because our criminal justice system does not give people the right to a fair trial. When people make one mistake, they don’t ever get a second chance.”
He adds, “It’s time we put our egos aside and start thinking about our fellow human beings.”
Today, the PJI is working vigorously to help release three other wrongfully convicted people who continue to serve their sentence for crimes they did not commit.
For more information on Valentino Dixon’s art please visit valentinodixon.com.
Natalie Orsi is a sophomore in the College studying Government and Journalism from San Francisco, California.