Freed inmate creates new life outside prison

August 19, 2010 4:40:11 PM PDT
Michael Green is now learning to live life outside prison. He was freed 20 days ago, after spending 27 years behind bars for a crime he didn't commit. Green will tell you it was actually 27 years, three months, one week and four days spent at prisons around the state. He's willing to calculate the hours as well, until he was released last month.

His conviction was overturned when his attorney showed that it was a matter of erroneous identification that led to his arrest for a rape in Houston in 1983. DNA evidence also showed that Green did not attack the woman.

Today, Green is still trying to find his way in the world. Computers are new. His attorney says he spent several hours yesterday trying to find a ribbon for a manual typewriter.

The good news is that Green, who's now 45, has a job. His attorney, Bob Wicoff, has hired him as a paralegal assistant. Among Green's duties is to interview and research cases for other inmates who may also have been wrongfully imprisoned.

Green says he spent most of his time in prison in the law library, researching his own trial. He was a quick study, and his work eventually caught the attention of Wicoff, who calls his new employee a poster child for the need to change how suspect identifications are conducted by law enforcement.

Green takes the bus to the Harris County courthouse five days a week, where Wicoff's office for the Innocence Project is located. His aunt, Green says, has a car that he can drive, but he doesn't have a license. "I have to study for the test," he says.

Though, by the state's calculations, Green is eligible for more than $2 million in compensation for the years lost in prison, he says it's not about the money. He would have to agree not to sue in order to collect the money, and he hasn't yet made that decision. Despite everything, Green says he's not bitter.

"If that wouldn't have happened I might be dead or in prison with a life sentence for something I done and can't get out. So the experience was worth it," he says.


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