I spent 15 years in Texas prisons as a result of being wrongfully convicted of murder and aggravated assault. For 15 years my life as I had known it ceased to exist. I felt kidnapped by a system that stripped me of my sense of individuality. It was a system that took my clothes, my name, my decision making and gave me a uniform, a number, and endless commands. It took my identity and my authority as a human being. While in prison I pursued my education receiving my Associate Degree in Science. By God’s grace and Centurion Ministries out of Princeton, New Jersey, my innocence was recognized. I was released from prison on October 10, 2009. But the fight was far from over. Texas is one of the few states in which the lower courts does not have the final say. I had to go to Austin Texas, to the Court of Criminal Appeals. As I was contesting my conviction, I spent two and a half years on bond. Even though the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office stipulated that I was innocent, I was still labeled a “convicted felon” as I awaited the court ruling. I struggled to get an apartment, find a job, and get adjusted to the “free world.”
On February 15, 2012 the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed my conviction and declared me to be “truly” innocent!! After two and a half years of being out, having gone to prison at 19 and being released at 34, I was finally FREE! My case is the first non-DNA, non-recantation exoneration, Miles vs. State of Texas.
Now, my next chapter: Miles of Freedom. The two and a half years that I was out awaiting the decision, I walked as a guilty person, someone who had been convicted of a crime. No job would give me a chance, because I had been locked up. No apartment would shelter me because I had been in prison and had no job. The perfect mixture for recidivism. If it had not been for God and people believing me when I said that I was actually innocent, there is no telling where I might have ended up. I’ve walked the walk of the ex-offender, I’ve felt the burden of the label “ex-offender” but I was able to make it to my promise. Now I can help someone to reach their promise. Miles of Freedom is reaching out to help others come home. We know that housing, employment, and the opportunity to regain dignity and humanity are crucial to rebuilding lives. We’ll work with other organizations and help to fill in the gaps. But most of all, we’ll help the men to handle the twists and turns as they become Motivating Inspiring Law-Abiding Enthusiastic Successful Servants. This acronym is MILES — because as we travel this journey of life, each of us coming out of prison needs help to walk the miles to our promise.