In a new video and article today on CNN, Willie “Pete” Williams describes the struggle of spending half his life in Georgia prison for a rape he didn’t commit. He tells reporter Thom Patterson that it took him years to overcome his anger at the injustice he suffered.
"I couldn't function out there around the other inmates," Williams said. "I was mad, I was bitter. I felt the whole world just gave me up."
It wasn't until 1997 — more than a decade after he was locked away — that Williams' own voice freed him from the grip of his anger. At Valdosta State Prison, a close friend named Charlie Brown helped him join a Christian choir — leading him to accept Jesus.
"Singing was like being out here, in a sense. It freed me from all the things, from all the fights, from the officers who were cruel, prison, stabbings," said Williams, who especially embraced the hymn "Amazing Grace."
Read the full story and watch the video interview here
. (CNN, 10/25/07)
The wrongful convictions of Williams and
five other Georgia men
were all all based, at least in part, on eyewitness misidentification, the leading cause of wrongful conviction. This week, Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck testified about proposed reforms before a panel of Georgia lawmakers charged with reviewing statewide eyewitness identification practices and reporting on possible improvements to these procedures.