Free at Last

Note: this blog was sent as an email to the Inside-Out Instructors nationwide. Tyrone is a member of the national leadership, recently released from Graterford Prison. The email is re-printed here with his permission.

Hi Everyone.

By now I’m sure you heard the incredible news that I finally had my life sentence commuted? It was December 14, 2011 when the board voted me through; December 30, 2011h when then Governor Ed Rendell signed my commute papers; and March 14, 2011 when I walked out of Graterford for the last time as a prisoner. I’m free and walking the streets of Philadelphia for the first time in 36 years. Believe me when I tell you, it’s an incredible feeling, and one I will never forget. It’s been an exciting time for me experiencing freeing for the first time in 36 years. I’ve been adjusting quite well with the help of so many people, especially my family.

As I think about my status today and how I got here, I can vividly remember reading all the encouraging words you and so many others had provided as my case was being heard last year. It’s all still so surreal for me. After nearly 4 decades in prison, locked away in a cage, struggling daily to keep my human dignity, sometimes feeling hopeless and even at times having to accept the fact that I would eventually die in prison, here I am, sitting in the Inside-Out Center writing to thank you for supporting me on this incredible journey.

At this point it’s been about a month since my release. I wanted to allow some time to pass before I notified you about my situation in order to give myself some time to adjust and get comfortable with even using the internet (WOW). Now that I am able to navigate this incredible technology, I wanted to not only let you know where stand, but also to thank you for the love you’ve shown me.

The transition has been surprisingly smooth, though not without the many challenges that present themselves in re-entering a complex, fast-moving world. I hope I can count on your continued support through this transition. And I hope to be of support to you, too -- especially in my capacity as part of the Inside-Out staff -- as you continue and expand
the work that you're doing.

Again, thanks so much!

Tyrone