Smart Justice
Khalil Rushdan

Khalil Rushdan's story

Khalil Rushdan grew up in a family of eight kids. He started selling drugs at 13 out of desperation to help his family make ends meet. At 22, he was convicted of a murder he did not commit. The charges stemmed from a drug deal in Pima County. He was the middleman and had no idea the deal, which he did not directly participate in, would end in a murder. When the Pima County Attorney was unable to convict the real killer, prosecutors went after Khalil. Khalil spent 15 years in prison before a judge overturned his conviction on evidence of vindictive prosecution. Although he is now free, Khalil never got the chance to watch his daughter grow up and missed precious moments with his mother, who died shortly after his release. “Those are things I can’t get back,” Khalil said. He now works for the ACLU of Arizona’s Campaign for Smart Justice and is a mentor to other formerly incarcerated individuals. “Upon my release and me being grateful to have another opportunity, I was like, ‘I have to give back,'” he said.