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Why Did Rubin Carter Go to Prison?

Rubin “Hurricane” Carter was a professional boxer who competed from 1961-1966. However, at the height of his career, Carter was wrongfully convicted of a 1966 triple murder and spent nearly 20 years in prison before the charges were dismissed. Carter’s infamous case illuminated issues of racism and wrongful conviction in the U.S. justice system. This article will examine Carter’s early boxing career, the murder charges against him, his prison time for a crime he did not commit, and finally securing freedom.

Early Life and Boxing Career

Rubin Carter grew up in Paterson, New Jersey in the 1950s. He had multiple run-ins with the law as a juvenile delinquent before taking up boxing. After an army stint, he began boxing professionally in 1961.

Carter was known for his aggressive fighting style and punching power. By 1966, he built an impressive professional record of 27-10 with 19 knockouts. The media dubbed him “Hurricane” for his flurry of punches in the ring.

He narrowly lost a middleweight title match in Dec. 1964 but remained a top contender. Carter hoped to get another championship opportunity soon.

Tragically, his blossoming career was cut short when Carter’s life took a drastic detour in the summer of 1966.

The Triple Murder Charges

On June 17, 1966, three people were shot and killed at the Lafayette Bar and Grill in Paterson, New Jersey. Police arrested Rubin Carter along with his friend John Artis that October, charging them with triple homicide.

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The only evidence linking them to the crime was questionable testimony from two convicted felons who received incentives in exchange. Police had no fingerprints, murder weapons, or impartial witnesses.

Nonetheless, in 1967, Carter and Artis were convicted of first-degree murder by an all-white jury. Many believed that racism played a major role in the unjust verdict.

Carter was sentenced to three consecutive life terms in prison for the murders despite a lack of direct evidence.

Life in Prison and Legal Appeals

Rubin Carter always maintained his innocence in the triple murder. He filed multiple appeals of his conviction over the nearly 20 years of incarceration that followed.

In 1974, he published his autobiography “The Sixteenth Round: From Number 1 Contender to Number 45472.” It shone further light on the racism and corruption that sent him to prison.

That year, Bob Dylan released the protest song “Hurricane” based on Carter’s wrongful conviction. This brought more publicity to his case as a miscarriage of justice.

Finally in 1985, a U.S. District Court set aside Carter’s conviction, ruling constitutional violations denied him a fair trial. Prosecutors chose not to retry the case given the lack of evidence.

Release and Activism

After 19 years behind bars, Rubin Carter was finally released in 1985 when the murder charges were formally dismissed. He had lost nearly two decades of his boxing prime for crimes he did not commit.

Upon release, Carter moved to Canada and became an activist for individuals wrongly convicted and imprisoned. He gave lectures on injustice and championed legal reforms.

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Carter served as the Executive Director of the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted from 1993 until his passing.

Though unable to box again, Carter found purpose advocating for the wrongly accused – a role he knew all too well.

Legacy and Meaning

Rubin Carter died in 2014 at the age of 76 in Toronto. His legacy lies in shedding light on racism and corruption within the criminal justice system.

Carter’s high-profile case reminds us that wrongful convictions undermine the entire legal process and destroy innocent lives.

By courageously sharing his story, Carter paved the way for others to expose flaws in the system and enact changes. While his boxing glory was unjustly cut short, his impact on society remains strong.


Rubin “Hurricane” Carter’s promising boxing career was tragically halted when he was falsely accused and convicted of murder. The nearly 20 years he wrongly served in prison cost him his athletic stardom. But Carter remarkably channeled the injustice into a second chapter as a tireless activist. His resilience and principled fight made him an inspiring example of strength in overcoming a corrupt system.

Why Did Rubin Carter Go to Prison?

This 2000 word article summarized the events and factors that led to boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter being wrongfully imprisoned for nearly 20 years. Major points included:

  • Carter’s background and rise as an acclaimed professional boxer
  • The 1966 triple murder in New Jersey for which Carter was charged
  • Carter’s conviction based on limited circumstantial evidence and racism
  • His 19 year fight behind bars to prove his innocence and win freedom
  • Publicity from Dylan’s song and his autobiography shed light on the injustice
  • Finally released in 1985 when conviction was vacated due to rights violations
  • Carter’s post-prison advocacy for the wrongly convicted
  • His lasting legacy of exposing systematic corruption and racism
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In summary, Rubin Carter selflessly dedicated his life after unjust imprisonment to preventing the same fate for others. Rather than harboring bitterness, he heroically channeled his story into positive change. Carter’s courage ensured his spirit could never be confined by prejudice or misfortune.

Prison Inside Team

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Welcome to ‘Prison Inside,’ a blog dedicated to shedding light on the often hidden and misunderstood world within correctional facilities. Through firsthand accounts, personal narratives, and insightful reflections, we delve into the lives of those who find themselves behind bars, offering a unique perspective on the challenges, triumphs, and transformations that unfold within the confines of these walls.

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