What It Was Like to Survive 36 years in Alabama Prisons, then Suddenly Walk Free
By Michael Schumacher
“Welcome to the house of pain.” This is how I was greeted by the guard who took the shackles, handcuffs, and belly chains off me when I arrived at Donaldson Correctional Facility in 1985.
As I laid in that cell the first night, I couldn’t help but think: How did I get myself into this predicament: sentenced to LWOP (life without parole) for a robbery where less than $150 was taken, no one was physically harmed, and no weapon was brandished? A Merle Haggard song, “Are the good times really over for good?” was playing somewhere on someone’s radio as I lay there pondering my mess.
No money for a lawyer, no hope
After my direct appeal was affirmed by the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals and my conviction was upheld by the Alabama Supreme Court, I knew I was in real trouble. I had no money to hire a post-conviction lawyer, so I started going to the law library every chance I got to study and try to figure out a way to challenge my sentence. I began filing petitions to the court. But when you do this pro se (without a lawyer) the courts very rarely take your arguments seriously. I suppose that’s understandable when you’ve got a GED-educated guy like me trying to interpret complex laws that are intended to keep me locked up forever.
Denial after denial began to weigh me down as the months turned into years. My life philosophy became hoping for the best but expecting the worst. It didn’t help that throughout all of this disappointment, I was losing family members, one after another. I couldn’t even go to the funerals to give final good-byes.
Meanwhile, all types of violence by convicts and guards surrounded me. I witnessed several men stabbed to death, killed by people who I associated with at the time. Because of my association, I was put in some very dangerous and hairy situations. I knew that I needed to do something different or I was going to be killed myself.
Losing a father but finding a new way to live
My father and I were very close. After he passed away, I had a hard time dealing with the loss. I was ashamed of being such a disappointment to him. When I was young, my father wanted me to be a pilot. But I didn’t pay much consideration to my future then. I remember my dad being a heavy drinker and could be distant as a result, so as a confused teenager, I got into trouble in a reckless attempt to get his attention. Two of the offenses that contributed to me being sentenced as a habitual offender happened when I was just 17.
Even after my father was dead, I could still feel his presence and disappointment in me. I couldn’t shake this idea that even beyond the grave, he was still so ashamed of me. So, I made some changes and decided to engage in positive, productive pastimes. I enrolled in trade school and graduated with a plumbing certification. I earned my GED and became a tutor, trying to help other men get their GEDs. I went to a drug treatment program for 18 months. When I graduated, I worked as an Intern assisting staff in the daily operations of the program. Eventually, I functioned basically as an unofficial drug and alcohol counselor for ten years. (I was only a few course hours shy of earning an associates in substance abuse counseling when the program was discontinued for folks with life without parole sentences.)
Moving into faith-based honor dorms was another important decision in my effort to improve my life. Those dorms were more clean and structured than the rest of the prison and offered a range of programming, unavailable elsewhere. There, you could find a constructive environment even while housed at one of the most dangerous prisons in Alabama. In prison, all you have is time with nothing to do, so the honor dorm classes helped in passing some long days. Classes got me out of the madness of the cell blocks or dorms. When I wasn’t in classes, I began playing Scrabble to pass the time and avoid the chaos. (I’m the reigning Scrabble champ in some of the correctional facilities.)
Over the decades there were several people that I befriended who have hung in there with me. Usually prison pen-pals don’t last long for a number of reasons, but I have met many people who are still supportive even after my release and have been there for me over multiple decades. Gene, a retired engineer living in Texas, and I started writing in 1988. We are still friends today. I basically adopted him as a father figure. He always encouraged me to do the right things, and he helped me a great deal with my spiritual journey. In fact, he kept every letter I ever wrote him since the late 1980s and mailed them to me soon after I was released.
Then there’s Nancy, a lawyer in North Carolina. She and I have been writing since 2006 and have developed a lifelong friendship. Nancy always encouraged me to look for the positive in each day even while housed in a maximum security prison. She always told me to believe that somehow one day I would be released. I am eternally grateful for her enduring presence, encouragement, and support.
There are countless others all across the continental U.S. who have supported me endlessly with abundant generosity. (A good friend of mine from Idaho even mailed me a computer the other day!) They all stuck it out with me, year after year, and kept me stable as I came to terms with the reality that I would spend the rest of my life in prison.
“It was only a stamp and I had nothing better to do at the time.”
Over the years, I heard that the Legislature was going to change the Habitual Felony Offender Act (HFOA), but nothing happened to help me. It wasn’t long before I didn’t even want to hear the rumors of reforms anymore and would tune out the conversations. I would never say anything negative to guys when they talked about speculative revisions to the HFOA because I knew they were just trying to hold on to the belief that one day the laws would change and they might get out and not die in prison. I used to be the same way.
One evening when I was watching the news, I saw a story about a man who was getting out of prison in Alabama after serving over 36 years for robbery on an LWOP sentence. The guy lived in the dorm next to me. We didn’t know each other, but I was sure happy for him. They mentioned the lawyer’s name who represented him so I wrote it down. From what I gathered, his crime was just like mine. So I figured I would write the attorney a letter and see if she could give me any help or advice. I really didn’t think I would get a reply, but it was only a stamp and I had nothing better to do at the time. Her name was Carla Crowder, and she worked at Alabama Appleseed Center for Law & Justice.
I did get a reply, and that surprised me. But the letter stated that it would be some months before she could look at my case and determine if anything could be done to maybe assist me in my quest. This made me think the worst, that this was a brush-off type of deal and that I’d never hear from her again. At the time, I didn’t have a high regard for attorneys.
After a few months, I was contacted by the attorney again. She was asking questions about my case and different details about how long I had been incarcerated and if I was sentenced as a habitual offender. She even sent me a stamped envelope to ensure that I wrote her back. I sure found that interesting.
Out of the blue, I was transferred to Holman Correctional Facility. (It’s common to be shuffled from one max security prison to another about every decade for no apparent reason.) Once I got there and saw how dysfunctional things were, I thought I would end up being killed there. I thought the House of Pain was bad, but it didn’t have anything on Holman! I was placed in the most violent dorm there, and I couldn’t believe the conditions. Even the guards were afraid to come into the dorms, and when they did have to come in to count, they did not come alone. Luckily for me, I had befriended some of the gangsters that were running the prison years prior, so I wasn’t treated as a “scrub.” Daily, someone was being stabbed or beat up. During my first three weeks, two men were killed in my dorm.
Things at Holman only got worse after I slipped and fell on a wet floor and had to be flown on a helicopter to a trauma center due to a broken rib and punctured lung. The guards thought I had been jumped. Coincidentally two hours later, four men were stabbed in my dorm and had to be taken by helicopter to the same trauma center where I was. I don’t think I ever convinced the guards that I simply fell. Accidents are anomalies in ADOC where intentional infliction of violence is the norm.
As I recovered from my fall, most of Holman was condemned and ordered to be shut down. They had to keep some of the prison open because it’s where Death Row is located. In addition to the inmates on the Row, they let 150 people stay, those of us considered a “low security” risk. Even though I was condemned to die in prison and had nothing to lose should I get into trouble to try to escape, I was nearing 60 and my health was declining. My COPD had gotten so bad, it prevented me from even walking to the chow hall for my meals. It was clear to anyone who’d been around me in the previous two decades that I was no real danger to anyone.
I continued to correspond with Carla Crowder Appleseed and another attorney at Appleseed, Alex LaGanke. They could not come see me due to pandemic restrictions, but they talked with me on the phone pretty regularly and informed me that they were working on filing a petition on my behalf. I was glad this was happening, but after so many denials in the courts, I was not as excited as some would be; I just didn’t believe anything was going to come of it.
I remember Carla asking me to get her a copy of my institutional record so she could finish my application to Shepherd’s Fold transitional center for people reentering society after prison. I came close to ignoring the request, sincerely believing the odds of getting out were infantesimal. But I had come to respect her and didn’t want to disappoint, so I went ahead and put the request in to my classification specialist. He informed me that I had LWOP, and there was no way that any transitional home was going to accept me … because I was never getting out of prison.
“Usually everyone just called me Shoe.”
A few days later, I heard someone calling out my full name in the dorm. Usually everyone just called me Shoe. But when I went to the guard to see what she wanted, she handed me a paper towel with a phone number on it and told me to call my attorney. I didn’t have any money on my phone account, but they’ll give you 20 seconds if you’re broke. So I called the number on the paper towel, and the only thing I heard on the other line was something about a Judge signing my petition. And then the phone went dead. Hell, I didn’t even know that the petition had been filed. After a very long 5 hours, Carla put money on the phone account so I could call.
Once we got connected, Carla reiterated that the judge granted my petition and had given me time served. I instantly broke down and started crying. A couple of my friends saw the tears running down my face and thought that someone had died. Needless to say, I was in total shock. I remember calling Nancy on the phone and telling her I was being released from prison. She began screaming and carryin on – she scared her husband to death with her reaction.
This was a Friday afternoon (Good Friday of all days), and Carla told me that Appleseed would arrange my transportation when everything was processed and got my sizes for clothes and shoes. It took until the following Thursday for DOC to get everything lined up for me to leave, but Carla informed me that she and Alex were leaving first thing the next day to pick me up.
I had a doctor’s appointment on the day of my release. The doctor told me she had some new medicine that I would pick up in three days. I told her that I wasn’t going to be able to do that because I was fixing to get released in a few hours. She looked at me like I was crazy. I’m surprised she didn’t send for the mental health nurse. She went to her office and came back after about five minutes; she said she hated to be the one to burst my bubble but I was not being released from prison that day and reminded me that I had an LWOP sentence.
It was only a couple of hours later that the guards were calling my name and telling me to bring all my belongings to the front, so I could be taken to the Warden’s office to be processed out of prison. It was happening. The guys in the dorm were very supportive and all wanted to wish me well. There were even a couple of guards that seemed genuinely happy for me. When I got to the Administration area, there was a guard there that had a bag of clothes for me that Carla had brought for me to wear. I changed as quickly as I could because I wanted to get out of this prison before someone changed their mind or something happened to prevent me from leaving.
I signed my release papers. The door was opened for me to go to the parking lot, and I was free. I am a spiritual person, and there is no doubt in my mind that God was performing a miracle at that very moment.
Life after Life Without Parole
There was no doubt that after being locked up 36 years a lot had changed; technology advancement alone was astonishing. I recall Alex getting a phone call as we were driving back to Birmingham. Her phone was bluetoothed to her car speakers, and that blew me away to say the least. But I’m happy to say that a year later, I’ve learned how to use this telephone (smartphone) that I have; it has provided me with many hours of pleasure, and I still don’t know all there is to know about it. The internet is something else, and I surf the web quite often; there is always something to do.
I didn’t realize how much help I would need to reenter society. It’s felt like I’ve been relearning how to live; everything as I remember it has changed. Just ordering from a menu was very strange to me initially. Another task that I had to learn was using a debit card and self check out at the grocery store. One of the biggest adjustments for me has been the softness of beds. There were a couple of times after my release where I almost got on the floor to sleep. I had to get used to total darkness at night. The quiet was even eerie. Where I came from, when things got that quiet someone was fixing to die or get hurt.
I remember the first time that Alex offered to take me to church with her, and how much I enjoyed just being able to watch the interactions of the parents with their small children. I was just in awe of being around actual natural human behavior instead of the animal mentality that I had experienced for so long. I am still a little skittish about being in large crowds, but it’s getting better.
When I first got out, some of the guys told me that I would be bored. After being confined to an abyss of hell for three and a half decades I knew that I wouldn’t have a problem with finding something to do to keep myself occupied. I find myself quite regularly watching the birds and squirrels playing outside my window. It’s awesome how much the small things bring me pleasure. I even get a kick out of washing and drying my clothes; the icing on the cake is being able to iron them.
Another thing that I’m having to get used to is the air conditioning, for 36 years I had none and now everywhere I go is really cool. Bring the summer on!
Each morning that I awake now is something special! I am just so thankful to God and to the amazing people that I have met through Appleseed. I have no doubt that the mold was broken for human kindness and sincerity after Carla Crowder and Alex LaGanke were born!
And a wife!
After I was out 6 months, I remarried my wife, Kathlyn at an outdoor park on a beautiful sunny autumn day. As I watched my beautiful best friend, lover, and companion walk toward me, I had no doubt that I was very blessed. I never thought there would be a time in my life that would surpass the feelings I had walking out the gates of prison after 36 years, but…
On that day, holding my hand and looking me in the eyes, professing her love for me, taking my last name, and vowing herself to me until death, Kathlyn, my loving soulmate, helped to surpass what I felt walking out of that pit of a prison completely free. I love her more than life itself!
There is a gentleman I met named Jim. He learned that I was going to be married and took me out and bought me a suit and even paid for the reception after the wedding. His kindness and generosity to me, though a complete stranger, has been unbelievable. I have never in my life experienced the kindness that I’ve been shown in the last year and it’s very humbling. There are a number of people who have been very supportive of me throughout the last year that I have been released who never knew me. I’ve spent Thanksgiving with total strangers who now feel like family. I’ve had furniture donated straight from people’s living rooms to furnish my apartment. Their generosity and genuine desire for me to be successful in my reentry to society and life continues to surprise me. If it weren’t for these random acts of kindness by friendly strangers, the decades-long support of penpals-turned-family, and the practical, everyday relearning-how-to-live support from Appleseed’s Reentry Team, I have no idea where I would be.
The Good Times Aren’t Over Yet!
Currently, I am living in Birmingham to tie up some loose ends. My wife and stepdaughter live in New Jersey, and I have had opportunities to visit, thanks to the generosity of friends.
I am sharing an apartment with a friend who I’ve known for decades. He served 37 years himself. The freedom I feel being in my own place and being able to go and come as I please no matter the time is awesome. Independent living is educational as well. I have learned that I got to be on point in regards to the utilities: turning the lights off, not wasting water and keeping the thermostat low cause all this stuff costs money.
I’ve been taking job readiness courses, and I am currently enrolled in a Certified Logistics Technician Certification program through Lawson State Community College. In 8 weeks, I’ll have my logistics certification. And to think this course was offered without charge! I am in disbelief at the resources and opportunities available to me.
I’m 61, a newlywed, and celebrating a year of freedom after spending more than half my life in the House of Pain. And yes, it can be overwhelming. But mostly, I’m just enjoying learning how to live. One thing is certain: God is good all the time!
P.S. I’m always on the lookout for local Scrabble competition. If anyone is up for the challenge, you know where to find me.
Michael is a prolific penpal and has befriended people across the country. In 1988, Michael began corresponding with Gene, a retired engineer living in Texas who he is still friends with today. Gene kept every letter Michael wrote to him and mailed them to him upon his release.
Appleseed intern Libby Rau has combed through the over 1000 letters to research and document Michael’s journey. Below are some excerpts from these letters.
Birthdays in Prison
July 9, 1988
“Well, I’ll be twenty-eight in ten more days. I really hate to think about it because it’s depressing to know that I am just wasting away in here. I believe I could handle it a whole lot better if I only had a release date. I see [people] leave all the time, and some of them should never be permitted to walk the streets again as a free man, and then there are people like me who have never hurt anyone in their whole lives and they are told that they will never get out. That’s really a strain on the brain. I wonder at times why I haven’t had a nervous breakdown. I just don’t understand it and probably never will.”
July 20, 1990
“To be honest with you, I think I’m slowly going insane. This place, my situation has finally started to take its toll on me. The last month I have just been stumbling on wondering why I want to even keep inflicting this pain on myself. There is no real reason for me to live and I have asked in my prayers to not let me awake in the morning. I’m too much of a coward to hurt myself so don’t worry about that. Just think about it Gene, I don’t have anything to look forward to when I awake in here each day, that is so down-heartening.”
“I had my 30th birthday yesterday and I was so depressed. I’m a pitiful case and no matter what I do my situation just won’t get better. I have been locked up for 5 and a half years and I’m no closer to getting out today than I was in ‘85. When I got that reply from the court I was overwhelmed and I layed in my bed and just cried. …I just feel so empty, lonely, helpless, and unhappy inside.”
July 13, 2003
“Next Saturday the 19th of July is my birthday. I’ll be 43 years old. Seems like every time I look in the mirror I have a little more gray in my hair. I can remember a time in my life that I never thought I’d live to see 20. The Lord has really brought me a long way and He will carry me even further if I don’t turn my back on Him.”
June 20, 2010
“Gene, as you know I have a birthday coming up in a few weeks, I’ll be 50. Where have the years gone? I was wondering if you might be able to forward me a money-order so I can eat good on my day and maybe even eat some ice cream with my cell partner. I sure would appreciate it deeply!”
A Man’s Spirit
April 15, 1989
“As I was sweeping yesterday I saw some pictures laying in front of a man’s cell. I picked it up and inquired but he told me to throw them in the garbage. My heart ached for him because I know he must have really been suffering. I tried to talk to him but to no avail. This place can sure break a man’s spirit if you let it. If anyone should know, it’s me. After all the denials I have received from the courts and everything else compounded. Thank goodness for prayer.”
April 22, 1989
“I have got to get out of this cell. It is starting to engulf me. Tonight the severity of my sentence has finally started to sink in. Do you wonder what made me cry, I looked at the law books on my floor and this thought came to me, “I’m only pacifying myself.” I truly don’t know if I can take any more negative encounters with the courts. I keep asking myself “Why me?” I’m 28 years old. I have been locked up since I was 24 and I don’t even have a release date. My release date is when I die. The average life span is around 80 years old, so I can say I have 52 more years. I can’t do it Gene. I keep asking “Why me?” God knows my heart, and I’m starting to wonder if I’m doing something wrong.”
September 22, 1997
“I’m still holding firm that God has a plan and in His time all will be great. Don’t get me wrong, I have my days where I don’t have my focus above and then is the time I realize my faith and trust are faltering and I take the action I need to get back on the right road. What really helps me is just thinking about the many blessings I have had since being saved and continue to get with each day. In all actuality, I’m happier right now than I have ever been in my life. Some would think I’m insane for this statement, having been locked up for 12 and a half years with a life without parole sentence. It’s true though and it’s only by the grace of God that I can have this peace, serenity, and love in my heart.”
October 13, 1999
“Let me share a little story with you. Last week I got to thinking about trees and that I hadn’t touched on in 15.5 years or longer. Needless to say I got to feeling sorry for myself and this made for a long day. That night, we had some rain. THe next day I decided to walk around our track for some exercise and quiet time. Almost half way around something caught my eye out of the ordinary. On the ground in front of me was an open hand-sized oak leaf. The closest any trees are is about 300 yards. Then I realized that God placed that there to remind me that He is in control. I was in awe at the total sense of peace that came over me. Guess sometimes I forget that I’m never alone!”
November 7, 2002
“The foliage around the prison is so brilliant and pretty. I can’t ever remember being aware of anything so awesome before I came to prison. This is just one of the many things I took for granted. It’s the simple things in life that mean a lot to me today.”
January 12, 2003
“I’m sorry I haven’t wrote before now. To be honest with you, I haven’t felt like doing much of anything lately. I recognize that I am suffering from depression. Lately I’ve really felt lonely and I just can’t seem to shake it. I also feel that I’m the reason that God hasn’t moved to have me released from prison. I keep thinking I’m not doing something right or not doing at all? I could probably use some extra prayers.”
Meeting, Marrying & Divorcing Kathlyn
January 5, 1993
“I don’t think I’ve mentioned this to you but I have met this Christian girl and things have gotten pretty serious between us. In fact she is flying down to see me in ten days. The problem is she doesn’t know how much time I have and I’m sorry to say this but I told her a lie and now I have to tell her the truth. I plan to do this when we visit but I may wait until after she gets back home so her family can be around. I feel that God brought us together and I’m telling her the truth before too much water goes under the bridge. I just hope she can forgive me, I hate to hurt her and this will surely make her cry but I have to do this. I’m telling her the truth because I do love her and it is the right thing to do. Her name is Kathlyn and if you don’t mind would you please keep her in your prayers?”
May 19, 1993
“To start with, I have finally told Kathlyn the truth about my sentence and the circumstances surrounding it. What a burden that was lifted from my shoulders! Once again God was good to me, Kathlyn forgave me for not being totally truthful and has vowed to stand by me until the end. I’ve never been so richly blessed in my entire life, I love her so much! I did ask her for her hand in marriage and she said she would be honored to become my wife. Can you believe it? We are officially engaged and are planning to be married here at the prison in July. It just amazes me how everything is turning out. You have always said God is working in my life and I have believed this but now it’s showing and I’m bursting with joy and happiness and last but not least thankfulness.”
August 17, 1993
“On August 11th Kathlyn and I were married here at the prison. What a beautiful bride she was and God handled everything and there were no problems what so ever. I’m in a state of awe and will be for a very long time. It amazes me how God can make unpleasant things great. All we have to do is live for Him and He will provide everything you need in your life! Amen. Kathlyn flew into Birmingham and stayed 10 days. We got to visit three times.”
August 24, 1997
“For the last several months, Kathlyn and I have been having a real hard time and we (I thought) were trying to work through this. Then low and behold two weeks ago I called and she told me she was tired and couldn’t go on any longer. I was shocked, hurt and numerous other things. I’ve been in a state of [haze?] ever since. At the moment I don’t know what to think. Kathlyn won’t take my calls and that makes the hurt more intense. It’s really bad at night, can’t sleep and can only wonder “why me?” I feel as though I’ve been betrayed and abandoned. I’ve prayed and prayed and I know God hears my prayers, just want the pain to end. Really don’t know how much more I can take. I’m sorry to sound like this but it’s how I’m feeling as the writing of this letter.”
“Please remember me and Kathlyn in your prayers. I love her so very, very much.”
March 3, 1998
“I appreciate your prayers from Kathlyn and myself. Two days before Christmas I got the final court order granting the divorce and also got a court order denying all my pending appeals and it said I could not appeal anymore. That was two very hard blows for me but I made a choice to continue to do the right things and trust that God was in control. I pray for strength, wisdom, and courage and have had no problem in seeing them answered.”
June 28, 1993
“Tomorrow I have to go over to the school library at 7:30am to test so they can determine what subjects I’d be better at tutoring with. I should start my tutoring job within a week or 10 days. I’m kind of looking forward to this because I’ve found myself with too much time on my hands.”
August 17, 1993
“I have begun in my tutoring position, I teach four different classes and my students are low level (3rd) with learning disabilities. I have a great deal more respect for teachers now since I’m experiencing their roles now. I know I have caused some headaches for some of my teachers in my past.”
May 4, 1994
“There is a reason for the slight change in my address. I have been accepted in the “New Outlook Therapeutic Community.” This is an 18-month program and is very strenuous. You do a great deal of work in groups, seminars, and so on. Only 48 people live where I am and it is based upon a Christian value system. In fact, we are not even allowed to use locks where I live because there is no stealing whatsoever. There is total respect shown for everyone at all times, it’s really quiet and stays so clean…What this program does is get at the root of a person’s problems through groups. These problems arise in our childhood and I’ve been amazed of some of the stuff I’ve heard thus far. Will admit that I am having a problem with having to spill my guts and feelings in front of total strangers but I will because I have no doubt this is God’s will for me.”
June 23, 1996
“People ask me all the time how I stay positive and happy with my problems. Needless-to-say this gives me the perfect opportunity to witness and I explain to them that I don’t view these things in my life as problems, I view them as opportunities for the Lord and trust and love Him enough to know that He has my best interest at heart at all times and His plan for my life is better than anything I could come up with. The joy, peace, serenity that I have I’d not trade for anything.”
March 21, 1999
“At times I get to feeling that I’m not doing enough or being an effective witness and then someone will come up to me and tell me I’m a role model for them and want to know how I have so much peace and have the sentence that I do. Needless to say, this makes me feel good and presents a great opportunity to plant a seed.”
May 19, 2002
“I have been kind of busy lately. It’s time to get all my GED students registered for the summer semester, that always entails a huge amount of paperwork. I don’t mind it, staying active and busy helps me in so many ways. Think one of the most important ways that I get to intermingle with people on a personal level. Needless to say that this enriches my opportunities to witness and to build and strengthen healthy relationships.”
Sentencing, Alabama Legislature & Working with Appleseed
March 18, 2003
“Yes, I have read about the 3 strikes law. Alabama is behind every state in regards to the justice and sentencing system that it’s in a real bind now. They are talking about the law in this state. We will just have to wait and see what happens. Last week on the 11th made me have 18 years behind these prison walls.”
June 20, 2010
“Since you last wrote it’s been crazy around here. The ironic thing is that it’s not the inmates acting up but the guards. I feel it’s just retaliation from the pending lawsuit against this prison [Donaldson].”
“Did you see where the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional to [mandatorily] give a juvenile LWOP sentence for a non-murderous conviction. I’m hoping that this will be the first step to something greater that may help me in the future. Sure has been a long time. Never would have made it this far without Jesus in my life.”
June 26, 2015
“I had had my hopes up high that the legislature would make some changes this session that would help me be released but was disappointed once again when they did nothing. Their answer to relieving prison overcrowding was to allot the prison system with 60 million dollars so they could add 2,000 beds. This sure seems like an oxymoron to me. I just continue to look above for my strength and understanding.”
June 23, 2019
“Things around here are about the same. I keep hearing about prison reform but I don’t see any results. This shouldn’t surprise me because I have been hearing about if for 34 years now.”
June 28, 2020
“I have a lawyer who is reviewing my case pro-bono to see if she might be able to help me. Please keep this in prayer.”
November 17, 2020
“A little over 3 weeks ago a couple of lawyers contacted me and we had a conference-call because there is no visiting allowed because of the virus. They have taken an interest in my case and want to try and help me free of charge because they feel it’s a real injustice that I have been in here for 36 years and have never physically hurt anyone in my life. They don’t know for sure if they can help but they seemed pretty optimistic. Before our call ended the lawyer asked me how I have kept my sanity after serving so many years and I shared with them that it was for my faith in God and the fact that I have never given up. I’ll keep you informed as I learn anything new.”
February 21, 2021
“Spoke with my attorney last week and she will be filing the paperwork this week in trying to get me resentenced. She is very optimistic about this and has me very excited. I’m sure hoping it’s God’s time for me to get some relief. I’ll keep you informed as I learn of anything.”
March 15, 2021
“The lawyer who has taken an interest in my case and is trying to help me be resentenced is almost ready to file the petition in the court. She seems to be pretty optimistic but I just hope it’s God’s time for me to get some relief. The 11th made 36 years in here.”
April 15, 2021 (POST-RELEASE)
“As I await for my attorney to pick me up so I can go to church I thought I’d write and let you know of everything that is going on with me. On the 9th of April I was released from prison after serving 36 years and 1 month. I have been out 2 weeks now and what an experience it has been! I have always known that God is good all the time but this miracle He has produced in my life has left me in awe and speechless of descriptive words to explain my feelings and the gratitude for the miracle He has blessed me with and continues to bless me daily in a mighty way! Praise the Lord!”