Highlights from Facebook Q&A with Angel Gonzalez
We hosted our first ever Facebook Q&A with exoneree
who was wrongfully convicted of rape and served over 20 years in prison. Take a look at highlights from the conversation:
Younginflavor18: Mr. Gonzalez, what was the experience of being freed from prison after proving your innocence?
It’s something you cannot describe with words. The feeling. Losing so much time. Finally felt like you’re free again.
: They have died. But nothing usually happens from what I hear with officers who do the same thing.
Sarah Dowland: Can you tell me how you got in touch with the Innocence Project? Was the experience different from your previous legal counsel and if so, how?
While I was in prison, another prisoner asked about my case. I let him read my transcripts. He knew about the Innocence Project in New York and helped me write a letter to them.
Sarah: Can you explain how long it took to get the DNA tests done? How long did you have to wait?
I got DNA testing in 2001 but it was not enough. The Innocence Project took on my case in 2012 and it took about two years for all the testing to be done.
o you still have a problem with people who perceive you as guilty, despite proof of your innocence?
There are probably people who think I’m guilty still and “got away”. It’s frustrating. They are ignorant. I have science, DNA, and the court found me innocent.
Julie paris: I’m really interested in your whole story, will you be writing an autobiography? I hope so?
I don’t think so. Too painful to keep on remembering.
What advice do you have to other wrongfully incarcerated men and women, and how do you think it’s possible to inform them about Innocence Project?
To the men and women out there — keep on fighting. Keep asking for help. Someone will listen. If you have DNA write the Innocence Project.
Emily and Marguerite: How has this experience changed your perception of the United States, land of the free?
Even though it was a horrible experience, there are still a lot of good people that are willing to help when you ask for it.
Mel Rodriguez: How are you doing?
: Trying to figure out how to live like a normal person again.
Is there a path to compensation for that lost time? And if so, what does the timeline look like?
: I got a certificate of innocence from the court and can get under state law about 200K for the twenty years in prison. There is a maximum amount people can get. So far the state hasn’t given me a penny.
Petra Hinojosa Hutchison:
What was the prison experience like? Do you have feelings of bitterness/anger? How do you over come those emotions to live your life fully?
: I don’t have no bitterness but you have to keep busy in prison. In my case it was education. I taught myself how to write and speak English. And took college classes.
What was the first thing you did when you were released?
I was taken by my legal team the law students Ariane and Gina the paralegal who worked on my case. We stopped for a sandwich at Potbelly’s and then I went to hug my mom and dad.
Do you think you’d pursue an education after your time being incarcerated, or did your time being incarcerated really hurt your motivation to pursue an education?
Although you were innocent, do you feel rehabilitated after your time being incarcerated?
Prison don’t help anybody. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Prison doesn’t do anything positive it’s up to the person. I do want to pursue education.
Did your situation from start to freedom inspire you to help others?
: Most definitely. I plan to be doing outreach work with Lauren Kaeseberg and the
Illinois Innocence Project
hat impressed you as having changed the most upon your release?
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