Shock Of Freedom — The Stories Of Three Released PA Prisoners


In what the Philadelphia Daily News calls the “shock of freedom,” released Pennsylvania inmate Clarence Davis experienced a “second childhood” after many years of captivity, struggling to ease back into a world that evolved while he sat frozen in time. Scores of men and women every year go through the same process. Philadelphia’s Office of Reintegration Services says 300,000 former inmates live among the city’s 1.5 million residents. The Daily News interviewed three of them. In 1988, he was one of the first inmates at his prison to get a four-year degree from nearby Misericordia University. After that, he helped inmates learn to read. He hopes one day to get a job helping other returning inmates connect with services and support groups.

Ed Baker served 25 years in prison until he was released on a wrongful conviction. He took the city’s electrician test, and now works at a water pollution control plant. “Jail took a big chunk of my life, don’t get that messed up, but I got something out of it and I put it to use to sustain my life,” he said. Nick Yarris also spent a quarter-century in prison on a wrongful conviction. These days he spends his time volunteering with the California Innocence Project, which advocates for people who are wrongly convicted, and he lectures about his life story. “I could sit down, beat my head against the wall and be bitter,” he said, “or I can use the one tool that could change my life – belief in myself.”

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