Valentino Dixon described the feeling of drawing golf courses... "I can't explain it. But, it's a very peaceful thing for me - the serenity, the greens, the peacefulness of nature". Dixon is a 51 year old golf artist who began drawing golf landscapes while he was wrongfully imprisoned for 27 years for a crime he did not commit. While the justice system failed Dixon as it has failed so many other members of the black community, we deeply admire Dixon's artwork, mental toughness, sense of service, and appreciation for the peacefulness around golf.
Today, Dixon is a free man, artist, criminal justice reform advocate, and founder of a nonprofit, Art of Freedom Foundation, whose mission is "to unite humanity, shine a light on injustice, work with lawmakers to achieve prison and sentencing reform, and champion the voices of the wrongfully convicted until freedom comes." The police arrested Dixon based on an anonymous tip. While the actual killer confessed to news two days later, detectives continued to pursue Dixon and prosecutors built a case, based on alleged eye-witnesses, that sentenced Dixon to 38 and 1/2 years in prison.
While wrongful convictions have suffocated the justice system for years, a problem that affects the black community at an unfairly high rate, we're hopeful that the repeal of 50-A in New York, a small step in the right direction, will lead to more reform in the same vein. In many ways, Dixon's artwork is the main reason why he received enough national attention for Georgetown University students to help re-open his case, and finally release him from prison.
We encourage our community to support Dixon's criminal justice reform efforts by buying his artwork, to read up on 50-A, and to learn more about how to push for criminal justice reform in their own communities.