The guy you see in the picture just got out of prison, where he served 17 years for nothing! In spite of this, he did not give up, continued to believe in himself, educated himself, proved his innocence, and received a huge compensation for jailing in prison as an innocent man.
Eric Glisson was eighteen years old, a simple young guy who had his youth and family stolen from him, forced to leave behind a girlfriend and a two-month-old baby. Instead of the joys of life, he was falsely accused, along with four others, of killing cab passengers. They were given sentences ranging from 24 years in maximum security Sing Sing prison.
Eric was tried based only on the word of a dysfunctional female drug addict who claimed to have seen him in the evil cab. No forensics, no DNA testing, nothing. No one cared, or was probably set up. Even though the guy was facing a prison sentence of 25 years!
Eric claimed innocence, but all was in vain. Relatives and friends turned their backs on him. All requests to reopen the case were denied by the prosecutor. But he didn’t give up. In parallel to the appeals, he studied and taught his fellow inmates school subjects, worked out at the gym, and moreover, got a degree in psychology.
“Why would I hate them all? I’m not that kind of person”, Eric said after his release.
Looking at such a kind face, it’s not hard to believe.
Glisson did his own analysis of the events, sitting in jail and using access to court files. Eventually he found the true culprits. It turned out that the real killers were members of some gang, and they COULD have known about that very cab. But the case was opened with a different investigator, so no one discovered the connection! (even the famous American court system fails). Eric wrote a letter to the investigator, he is understood, and the federal prosecutor reopened the case.
Eric solved the case while in prison. Moreover, he exonerated not only himself, but also the other four unlucky guys who went to jail for nothing.
It was a miracle! But this miracle happened only because of Glisson’s own patience and persistence. He had his youth and freedom stolen. But he kept believing in himself!
Eric told reporters in interviews that more than once he had suicidal thoughts, because he had been rejected so many times, but something inside helped him not to give up. It was the determination to return to his family. It was the pain that the real culprits were not punished and that he was imprisoned for nothing. And, of course, it was the desire to be free.
Some time later, the state paid out a record $40 million for the five. Glisson received $8 million, but said:
“It’s just money, it’s nothing. No one will give me back 17 years of my life. And my daughter doesn’t think I’m a father”.
Here are some interesting answers from Glisson in his interview:
– What was the biggest shock of going to prison?
– In prison, everything is not like it is on TV. There’s not a lot of violence, the food isn’t that bad. But you start going crazy with claustrophobia and loneliness. I lived in a dark 6 by 8 meter cage for 17 whole years! The guards constantly told me what to do and where to go, we were counted 3 times a day like cattle.
– What surprised you the most when you were free?
– The piercings, the body tattoos, the baggy pants, the whole new culture.
– Were there moments when you thought you’d never get out?
– All the time. Those kinds of thoughts sit inside and try to crawl their way out. But I tried to be optimistic and believe that everything would work out.
This story proves to us that with tremendous willpower and faith you can change your life, even if you are unfree or in prison.
Of course, such stories are rather nonsense (after all, the U.S. judicial system is one of the best in the world) and the result of a monstrous mistake. But if you take a broader look at this case (if consider how many people in the world are still enslaved, living and working under duress), then Eric’s example is undoubtedly very telling.
Personally, I think this man has tremendous, amazing willpower! I would give a lot just to know where he learned it from, what his parents, his mother, his father were like. Because they’re the ones who put that in a person. If he was weak, if he was insecure, he’d never be able to follow through.
This, by the way, is not the first known case of this kind. Suffice it to recall the story of Viktor Frankl (a survivor of a German concentration camp), who said:
Being deprived of freedom, a human without a purpose cannot survive, he will suffer and degenerate.
This is what helped Frankl to survive where it seemed impossible at all, in the most difficult conditions (incomparably more difficult than Eric’s).