After serving nearly 30 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, being released back in society should be the easy part for James Woodard, but for many individuals who have been exonerated, the transition is very difficult.
Woodard’s difficult journey post-jail is chronicled in the book Exonerated: Brief and Dangerous Freedom. Author and fiancée of James Woodard, Joyce King, joined Roland Martin on the set of NewsOne Now to discuss the book and the challenges that many wrongly convicted Americans face once they are freed.
Falsely accused of murdering his girlfriend, James Woodard served more than twenty-seven years in prison. In April 2008, James became the seventeenth man exonerated by DNA evidence in Dallas County. The same day he was granted his freedom, James laid eyes on Joyce King, the “prison wife” he’d fantasized about falling in love with for nearly three decades. It was the happiest day of his life.
Their mutual attraction was immediate, but a major hurdle complicated their relationship. Joyce was a prominent activist, the first non-lawyer to serve on the board of directors for the Innocence Project of Texas, the nonprofit that helped James win his freedom and ensure justice by working hard to change the compensation law in Texas.
EXONERATED vividly details the instant bond James and Joyce shared as soul mates and the challenges that arose when their disparate worlds collided. This riveting account serves as a blueprint for how to navigate innocence and avoid the painful lessons they learned about justice, freedom, power, and love.
King explained that the easiest day of Woodard’s life after being incarcerated for 27 years was supposed to be his “freedom day,” but it wasn’t.
“Immediately he was faced with hurdles that these men face — technological issues — just imagine there was no internet, no cell phone … and there were psychological issues that James dealt with.”
King continued that Woodard had a lot of health issues as a result of being imprisoned for nearly three decades.
“Prison does not afford you the very best doctor in Texas.”
She added, “I saw the demons up close.”
Watch the video clip above to see what else Joyce King has to say about her book, Exonerated: Brief and Dangerous Freedom, her relationship with James Woodard, how Woodard struggled with his return to society after being freed from prison, and the heartbreaking end to Woodard’s journey.
For more information about Joyce King and Exonerated, visit www.JoyceKing.com.