What is it like to be innocently behind bars for decades? And then, after such a long time, to be released into a world that has become alien to you? Sidney Holmes experienced exactly that. The 57-year-old American was sentenced to 400 years in prison in 1989 for allegedly committing an armed robbery. He was only released in March – after 34 years.
After more than three decades, he now has to learn to lead a life of freedom again. A lot has changed, especially the technical possibilities, which Holmes did not have access to in prison. "The technology overwhelms me. I have great family support, but it will certainly take time to get used to my new life. That's why I recently watched YouTube for the first time," he told the "Neue Zürcher Zeitung".
During his long time in prison, Holmes has been very interested in culinary arts and cooking, in which field he would like to find a job in freedom. His big dream: owning a food truck. "But I'm missing 34 years of work experience on my resume, and I'm considered an ex-inmate out here," he says. "Getting a job shouldn't be easy."
Holmes was 22 years old when he was convicted. He was accused of helping two unidentified men as a driver in a robbery. But there was neither direct evidence nor witnesses: Holmes was arrested because the brother of a victim claimed to have recognized him weeks after the crime. However, one victim of the attack did not immediately recognize him when photos were presented to him. Despite this questionable body of evidence, the Florida court pronounced a drastic verdict: 400 years in prison, Holmes should have spent his entire life in prison.
"After the verdict I was desperate. Angry. Devastated. I was 22 years old and thought I would never get out of jail," recalls the American. The case has only been reopened in recent years. The public prosecutor's office came to a clear assessment: If the case had happened today, the evidence would not even have been sufficient to bring charges at all. A court overturned the verdict in March.
Sources: "Neue Zürcher Zeitung" / University of Michigan / Public Prosecutor's Office
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