Free at last?

He always had a feeling it would always come down to just one person. One governor to agree to sign the release. One judge to admit his mistake. One man to cleanse his soul and confess his sin.

On Monday 25th June 2012, the Supreme Court of the United States of America held that “The Eighth Amendment forbids a sentencing scheme that mandates life in prison without possibility of parole for juvenile homicide offenders.” He was a juvenile when he was sentenced for a homicide. The state mandated that he had to be sentenced to death or to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. This ruling applies to him. Five Supreme Justices concurred; four dissented. One vote separated the ayes from the nays. One person decided that potentially he can finally be free. If one person who said aye had said nay, this too would have been a dead end. But they didn’t. Five to four. The ayes have it.

His juvenile years are long gone, as is much of his adult life. His once defiant dreadlocks  thinned and turned to grey many years ago and have since been shaved off. But devotion to maintaining a disciplined regime to keep body and soul healthy has kept the spirit alive. His eyes still hold that flame of defiance.

For 38 years he maintained his innocence, but since the youthful age of 16, Gary Tyler has been imprisoned. Contained. Caged.

“Just say you did it, and we’ll let you out,” they teased. He would have none of it.

Three separate pardon boards recommended release. The state of Louisiana would have none of it.

Stalemate. Standoff. Each party digging in their heels and refusing to budge. The man refusing to admit any guilt; the state refusing to accept they may have made a mistake.

Now the Supreme Court has offered both parties a compromise. A win-win situation. Louisiana can release Gary Tyler from his nearly four decade long nightmare on a technicality. Louisiana won’t have to admit they made a gross error in legal and moral judgement, and Gary Tyler won’t have to rollover to the establishment. The Supreme Court, the highest court in all the land, has decided that sentencing a child under the age of 18 to a sentence of life without parole is “cruel and unusual punishment.” Nobody can contest it, because there is no court higher to lodge an appeal. The Supreme Court has decided that the cases involving all those children that received life without parole as a result of their state’s mandatory sentencing rules should be revisited. Neither party has to admit their failings. Neither has to admit any guilt.

The standoff can end.


Categories: Alice's world, Just me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

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33 thoughts on “Free at last?

  1. Is he innocent? Did he kill someone at the age of 16?

    In Norway there was a guy that spent something like 20 years in prison, then died, and was freed of all charges posthumously when someone on his death-bed admitted the murder.
    The guy that spent his life in jail was arrested and sentenced because he was a bit retarded (he had some syndrom of some kind – I can’t remember all the details and I don’t bother to google it). That was all the evidence the system needed…

  2. No, he didn’t kill anyone. That fact has been demonstrated on many occasions. But the powers that be say he did, and refuse to recognise the fact and allow him a new trial. Instead – unless this Supreme Court decision changes anything – he is expected to stay in prison until he dies.

  3. Hadn’t heard his story before. Just researched it a little … a terrible injustice.

  4. Mirna

    Of course they don’t want to admit they made a mistake! Do you know the compensation Gary would be entitled to?! The main thing is that they let him out! Let him at least enjoy what’s left of his years, it’s bad enough they robbed him of his life!

  5. DuncanGBR

    So he’s still in prison, even though it’s plainly obvious that he didn’t commit the crime, the actual evidence shows this. The fact that the .45 magically appeared and disappeared shows that this was a travesty of justice. This is disgusting in a supposed ‘modern’ society, not saying that race related miscarriages of justice don’t occur on this side of the pond, but bloody hell nigh-on 40 years?!?! The state of Louisiana and the United States should both be ashamed of this.

  6. Bill Davis

    Tragic. Almost better to stay locked up and force this corrupt system to admit it’s injustice. I hope after he is released he files a 200 million dollar lawsuit against the state.

  7. Ted Washbrook

    There is always hope… but it’s really inhuman having to wait for years and years. How can anyone stay sane afters having endured such injustice?
    Maybe you all already know – there is a song about Gary on the internet:

  8. Stronty

    What’s the latest on this issue …does anyone know?



  10. bb

    Gary, on the bus to school. I hope you are freed soon and get to enjoy life again.

  11. What a story…………free him !!!

  12. Any word on his freedom??

  13. Kenny Bryce

    The injustice served on Gary Tyler is no shock to the world. America and it’s states are renowned for their racial hatred. Louisiana, hang your head in shame.

  14. monique

    just tragic.. my partner (RIP) gil scott heron wrote a song for Gary.. Angola, Louisiana.. so sad that he is still locked up I cant believe it. How does the petition not have more signatures? Is there a FB page for him that we can link on our pages?

  15. Munashe

    I was a teenager when UB40 released a song about this guy in the 70’s? or 80’s. I knew about this story but just enjoyed the music so much didn’t get the message till decades later when Google accorded access to details! As the Song and Band are always on my playlist, I occasionally google in sadness to review the issue. When Obama came around I figured he would perhaps just revisit the case or at least talk about it. Guess he had better things to do, like foreign military escapades in Arab lands…Any case, just got thrill-shocked now to see the guy was released just yesterday…as I was listening to the UB40’s Tyler song again! From me here far in some small African country of my birth, united through a song from another continent, Europe, about Tyler from yet an even further continent, USA, I wish Tyler well. I’m so glad you are out, man. Am so happy you kept yourself intact. And thanks to UB40 for putting this case into song publicity to reach us here in far away Zimbabwean villages.

    • Thank you for your support and kind words. While you’re listening to songs, you may also like to check out Gil Scott-Heron’s “Angola, Louisiana” and Chumbawumba’s “Waiting for the Bus”. They can both be found by googling the internet.
      It’s a good day.

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