Judge and Convicted Murderer Become Unlikely Friends

Localish logo
Tuesday, December 31, 2019
Judge and Convicted Murderer Are Unlikely Friends
This unlikely friendship proves everyone deserves a second chance.

LOS ANGELES -- "I used to run away from cops. Now I'm running with cops...I'm running with a judge." A Los Angeles judge and a man on parole for murder strike up an unlikely friendship, proving people can change and we all deserve second chances. They are featured in an award-winning documentary, Skid Row Marathon.

Craig Mitchell, is a judge assigned to a felony trial court in Los Angeles. He started the Skid Row Running Club for former inmates to stay active, clean, and out of the criminal justice system, which earned him the nickname "The Running Judge."

Rafael Cabrera was arrested in 1982 and he was subsequently sentenced to 36 years to life in prison for murder. In 2004, he had his first parole meeting, where Craig Mitchell saw that the man before him that day was not the same as the man who had been arrested almost 22 years ago.

"When I got out, I came right here to this courthouse I came to visit him," said Rafael, "And I went to give him a handshake. And he just says, you ain't gonna get away with that. And he gave me a big hug. One day he just says, he goes, hey, why don't you come and run with us. And I go, run where? And he said in Skid Row."

That's where an unlikely but beautiful friendship was born.