National Poetry Month: A Poem by Exoneree Victor Rosario

By Emma Zack

Victor Rosario before he ran the 2016 NYC Marathon with Team Innocence Project!

In honor of National Poetry Month, today we are featuring a poem titled Inside the Cage, which CPCS Innocence Program (CPCS) and New England Innocence Project (NEIP) exoneree Victor Rosario wrote in 2013 while he was incarcerated for a crime he did not commit.

In 1983, Rosario was convicted of eight counts of murder and one count of arson and was sentenced to life in prison. In 2006, attorney Andrea Petersen began reinvestigating Rosario’s case and eventually involved NEIP and CPCS. In 2012, Lisa Kavanaugh of CPCS and Petersen filed a third motion for a new trial.

In July 2014, Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Kathe Tuttman vacated Rosario’s convictions, granted him a new trial and ordered him free on bond. When the prosecution appealed, the Innocence Project, NEIP, and the Boston College Law School Innocence Program filed an amicus brief insisting that Judge Tuttman’s ruling be upheld. In May 2017, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Judge Tuttman’s ruling, and in September 2017, the prosecution dismissed the charges. After 32 years in prison, Victor Rosario was finally free.

If you have a poem about justice that you’d like to share, send it to [email protected] or comment below. We’ll be selecting a number of pieces to share on and on social media this month. Yours might be chosen!


Inside the Cage


Mourning dove moves around,

Hopeless, a wing spreads down

And limp. And the eyes open

Looking for something to eat.


Here I am in this cage.

No water, no food, no one cares

If I die or live!

I want to spread my wings

And fly over the sea.


Over, turn on the wind

Please. Allow it to take

Me under His shadow of love.


My beak is broken

Trying to slide the bolt open

And I am too tired to sing.

Set me free, set me free.


Read more about Victor Rosario’s case here.


  1. Linda Glasper

    Every time I see another person freed because of the work of the ” Innocence Project ” I have mixed emotions. Happy/joyous, because seeing even one person who was blessed to get freed makes my heart smile and make me feel like I want to jump up and down to celebrate. Then, after my emotions settle down I get angry/resentful for many reasons. The fact that they are allowed to do people like that with impunity infuriates me. Then, if they’re blessed to find someone who listens, believes, and is willing to help them it takes entirely too long for the process to work for them to obtain their freedom. In the end those responsible are never, or rarely held accountable. They go on to live their lives, retire, and collect checks that the inmates, their families, and friends may have paid in taxes towards those checks. The first ultimate betrayal was being imprisoned when you’re innocent. Then, once you’re released, if you’ve been blessed, they send you back into society with no rehabilitation, no skills, no education, no housing, no jobs, no insurance, and practically financially broke. To make matters worse not all states compensate inmates who have been found to be innocent. Some have to wait long periods of time to receive that compensation or they don’t receive it at all. Now, who’s the worse criminal in this picture ? The article had already had me tearing up, and once I started reading his poem the tears started flowing. Congratulations Mr. V. Rosario. May God grant you good health, love, family, friends, and many more years on this earth. Thank everyone who work with the Innocence Project to help him gain his freedom. God bless all of you.

  2. Rhonda Daniels

    I would like to help my step father he was wrongly accused of raping my mother but on my mothers death bed she told me he didn’t do it he has served 18 years in prison on a life sentence I would like to help set him free can someone please help me . thank u and god bless .

  3. Jill Bertrand

    Blessings on your future, Victor.

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