In 2015, Nick Yarris was the subject of The Fear of 13, a critically acclaimed documentary about the 22 years that he spent on death row after he was wrongfully convicted of a 1981 rape and murder in Pennsylvania. Yarris has now released a book by the same title that gives his first-person account of how being wrongfully incarcerated transformed his life in unexpected ways.
In a BBC article about the new book, Yarris said: “I genuinely believe that being on death row for 22 years ultimately saved my life. It was the greatest adventure of my life, and I survived it.” Given that nearly all of those years were spent in solitary confinement, his positive perspective may come as a surprise to some. But Yarris says that he used the years in isolation to educate himself about law and psychology—sometimes reading up to three books in one day.
Yarris is clearly a survivor. As a child, he lived through a traumatic sexual assault. And as an adult, death row didn’t destroy him. Rather, he somehow drew upon his own personal strength and used the experience to rediscover himself.
“I didn’t mind the 23 hours a day solitary confinement for the majority of the time, because after the first few years in prison, when I stopped being angry and started to like myself and understand myself, it was OK. I still enjoy my own company sometimes.”
Learn more about Yarris and his awe-inspiring story here: http://www.innocenceproject.org/cases/nicholas-yarris/