Ruchell Magee was initially incarcerated in 1963, after he and his cousin got into a fight over a $10 bag of marijuana. After an unfair trial, both Ruchell and his cousin received charges of kidnapping and robbery, and were sentenced to life in prison.
While in prison, he began to educate himself on Black liberation history, and adopted the middle name of “Cinque”, which was the name of the enslaved African who led the rebellion of the slave ship Amistad and freed all Africans onboard.
On August 7th, 1970, Ruchell was in the Marin County Courthouse awaiting an opportunity to testify on behalf of James McClain, who was on trial for assaulting a guard in the wake of a Black prisoner’s murder by prison officials. Ruchell was less than four months from his own parole hearing for his trumped up 1963 charges.
However, while Ruchell was awaiting his turn to testify, revolutionary Jonathan Jackson entered the courtroom armed with several guns, and tossed them to prisoners James McClain and William Christmas. The trio then invited Ruchell to join them as they executed a plan to free the unjustly incarcerated Soledad Brothers, and expose the brutally racist conditions of American prisons. He joined without hesitation.
The plan was to hold the judge, assistant district attorney, and several jurors hostage until their demands were met. However, after the four revolutionaries had loaded the hostages to the getaway van, police opened fire— killing Jonathan, James, and William (and the judge) and leaving Ruchell seriously injured.
In 1971, Ruchell and Angela Davis (to whom the firearms had been registered) became codefendants in the case surrounding the Marin County Courthouse Rebellion. When Angela was acquitted of all charges in June of 1972, Ruchell lost the international and national support that followed her. He was left to continue fighting alone.
He won the right to represent and defend himself in trials, and got his murder charges dropped (leaving him with two kidnapping charges). He was convicted of one of those charges, but according to the sworn affidavit of one of the jurors, the jury voted to acquit Ruchell of the second charge. However, the court somehow handed down a guilty verdict. To this day, Ruchell continues to challenge the denial and subsequent cover-up of that acquittal.
Ruchell Magee is the longest-held political prisoner in the United States, having been incarcerated in 1963. He is currently 81 years old.
To send mail to Ruchell, use the below name and address:
Ruchell Magee #A92051 #T 115
California Medical Facility
P.O. Box 2000
To Send Money, use JPay.com and the below information:
Inmate Number: #A92051