A man was released from prison after DNA evidence cleared him of a rape committed in 1982, the Oakland Post reported. Thirty-seven years ago Archie Williams, now 60, was convicted of attempted murder and aggravated rape even though he had an alibi, a witness who said that he was at home sleeping at the time of the crime, said the Post.
The Post said that Williams started off singing in local nightclubs at age 12, where he would imitate musical legend, Michael Jackson. Growing up, he had more than a few run-ins with the law. He acquired various employable skills along his road of struggles, but strokes of continuous bad luck landed him in prison, where he continued to develop his talent while fighting for his freedom. Six years into his life sentence at one of the most dangerous prisons in the USA, Louisiana’s Angola prison, Williams learned of the Innocence Project and sought the organization’s help in exonerating him.
The Post said DNA evidence was requested by Williams in 1996, however, in 1996 incarcerated people could not make such a request. It took the State of Louisiana 10 more years to finally approve a law for incarcerated people to do so. Williams was determined, and after spending 36 years of his life in prison, 22 of them in solitary confinement, he was finally released in 2019. Williams did not allow the cruel punishments and the unlawful conviction to rob him of the things he actually loves to do.
Since his release, Williams has signed up for community college to continue his education. Not breaking his stride in pursuing his passion, Williams has found many possible ways to hopefully land him his big break. He was visiting the campus one summer day when he encountered a tour conducted by Restoring Our Communities, a program assisting students impacted y incarceration. It was there that Williams enrolled in piano and voice lessons. He went on to compete on America’s Got Talent, performing one of the great Stevie Wonder’s songs, “Love’s in Need of Love Today.” Wonder heard it and they shared a Zoom call. Williams made it to the finals but did not win the contest. He has, however, performed at the Apollo theatre and has since explored other ventures.
Another Black man who was robbed of his life by the system is 65-year-old Ronnie Long. “They took my life away from me when I was 20 years old,” Long told CBS News. “I ain’t got nothing but memories. But, yet and still, you say the evidence in the case was immaterial?” Long has claimed his innocence since the very beginning. His lawyers posed many questions about the material evidence prosecutors used to convict him of rape and burglary over 40 years ago. Long received a life sentence in May of 1976 for the rape and burglary of a 54-year-old white woman in Concord, North Carolina.
Over the years, it came to light that DNA evidence proving Long’s innocence had been withheld by the prosecution, and a judge finally granted Long his freedom. “I feel that the criminal system in this state failed me, “ Long said. However, after four decades of incarceration, Long was finally a free man.