Before starting my series on some of the most amazing people on the planet-exonerees, I’d first like to engage you in a little thought analysis.
My page was designed to leave my readers with a sense of things indescribable and a bit unsettling. I’d like you to imagine that you are a caged animal. No one is coming to rescue you from some hellish nightmare-a nightmare so devastating that you’ve become apathetic and devoid of all hope. Think about what affect this might have on your family, your best friends, your coworkers. Imagine their desperation in wanting it to stop, in wishing for your safety. Then realize that this will never end and that everyone is uncertain about what to do about it because no one outside this immediate circle of people gives a damn.
Imagine something else. Take ten years of your life. Think about all that has happened during that time-weddings, funerals, trips, birthdays, promotions. Anything sacred. Now take all of those precious images and wipe the slate clean. Petend you weren’t there. They never happened. Sorry…you didn’t get to give that best man speech or help Mom when she fell ill. You were not there to help out when your grandchild was born. And guess what, there’s no chance of you getting that time or those experiences back…ever…unless of course… Nope, no such luck.
Then and only then, just maybe, we will have achieved a fraction of a sense of what it might be like to be an innocent person in prison; one who has been locked away for years or for the rest of their natural life. What’s more, many of these people feel forgotten, chastised and hated by everyone (including fellow inmates) because of the heinous nature of the crime they’ve been falsely accused of.
It’s true. These are hardships felt by everyone in prison. But they are especially so for those who’ve done nothing wrong and were sent away anyway. For those incorrectly targeted, this nightmare has become their reality.
I’ve tried, but I’ve not reached the depth of that pit yet. I said as much one time to my good friend, Damon Thibodeaux (300th DNA exoneree, 2012), who spent 15 years on death row. His reply to me was, “I hope that you never do know how that feels because that will mean you didn’t have to go through what I did. And that is a good thing”.
The compassion and love for life that I see in every exoneree I’ve met, has caused me to take a hard look at everything precious in my life. I am forever enriched because of the courage and determination these people possess. I hope that you thoroughly enjoy learning a little about these folks as I tell each of their stories.