Charlie Young waited on Georgia’s death row for his turn to die. It never came. After 28 years in prison, he was released on parole in December. Young, 57, is adjusting to life on the outside, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He is using his remarkable story to warn others to avoid his grave mistakes. Young was sentenced to death for the vicious 1975 murder of a banker in Union Point, his hometown. He was on death row for almost four years; courts overturned the verdict, ruling that his trial lawyers had been ineffective. He agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence. He was a model inmate; he was never written up for violating prison rules, he worked hard on jobs, finished educational programs and expressed remorse for his crime. He became a devout Christian.
The state parole board, in a controversial 3-2 vote, released Young. So far, he has given the board reason to believe it made the right choice. Scott Belk, Young’s parole officer, says Young works hard and stays out of trouble. “He’ll come into my office, he’ll lift my spirits up – he’s got such a strong faith and such a positive attitude,” says Belk, a parole officer for 17 years. “He’s got a powerful statement. When you hear him say he’s had three execution dates set . . . he is thankful to be alive and to be out and he doesn’t take it for granted.” After six months in a halfway house, Young moved into a home with his schoolteacher wife, Judith Ann – a pen pal who wrote him in 1978 while he was on death row and married him 14 years later in a prison ceremony. Young cleans offices at night for modest pay, hoping to find a better job.