Skip to main content

Yusef Salaam


Yusef Salaam

Yusef Salaam is the inspirational speaker and prison reform activist, who, at age 14 was one of the five teenage boys wrongly convicted and sentenced to prison in the Central Park jogger case. In 1997, he left prison as an adult to a world he didn't fully recognize or understand. In 2002, the sentences for the Central Park Five were overturned, and all Five were exonerated for the crime they didn't commit.

Yusef now travels the world as an inspirational speaker, speaking about the effects of incarceration and the devastating impact of disenfranchisement. He is an advocate and educator on issues of mass incarceration, police brutality and misconduct, press ethics and bias, race and law, and the disparities in the criminal justice system, especially for men of color.

Yusef Salaam

Books by Yusef Salaam

by Yusef Salaam - Memoir, Nonfiction

During his seven years of wrongful incarceration as one of the Central Park Five, Yusef Salaam gained a spiritual perspective on life, realizing that we are all “born on purpose, with a purpose.” BETTER, NOT BITTER is the inspirational story of a young man growing up in central Harlem in the '80s, the failure of America's criminal justice system, of being vilified by a nation. But during his years of incarceration, Yusef discovered the power of art and faith, and of holding on to the person you know you are, which gave him the strength to survive, and helped him through reentry and exoneration. Yusef's journey inspires us to accept our own path, to discover our own sense of purpose. His intimate insights help unpack the racist design of systems built for profit and oppression of Black and Brown people.