We are Clarence Harrison and Robert Clark. With the help of the Georgia Innocence Project (GIP) and DNA testing, we were exonerated from prison after spending 18 years and 24 years, respectively, in prison for crimes we didn’t commit.

We are answering questions today. An intern at GIP is helping us type our answers.

Clarence Harrison: Clarence was convicted in 1987 for rape, robbery, and kidnapping in Decatur, Georgia. Clarence was interrogated about a rape, solely based on rumor. The victim positively identified him in a photo lineup, later proven to be mistaken identification. He was exonerated after GIP found a slide from the original rape kit and performed DNA testing that confirmed that Clarence was not the perpetrator. He was the first man exonerated by GIP and was exonerated in 2004 after serving nearly 18 years in prison.

Robert Clark: Robert was convicted of rape, kidnapping, and armed robbery in 1982. The victim positively identified him in a photo lineup and in the courtroom, even though the actual perpetrator was in the courtroom at the same time. (Robert is 5 or 6 inches taller than the real perpetrator). DNA testing proved that Robert could not be the perpetrator; the DNA matched a man already in prison serving time for sodomy and cruelty to children. Robert was 21 years old when he went to prison and spent 24 years wrongfully incarcerated, more than half of his life.

For more information on wrongful convictions and the work being done to correct them, please see the following websites: http://ga-innocenceproject.org/ http://www.innocenceproject.org/ www.reddit.com/r/wrongfulconvictions

LEGEND: R = Response from Robert C = Response from Clarence

EDIT: Robert and Clarence are having car trouble but there are on their way. In order to be respectful of your time and your questions, they will be extending the time that they will be answering question. They are extremely sorry. We will post a picture of them at the computer as soon as they arrive and begin answering questions. Also, edit for more information on wrongful convictions.

EDIT #2: They are here! We're super sorry but we are going to be answering questions as quickly as possible! Posting picture as proof ASAP!

EDIT #3: Picture proving we are currently answering. http://i.imgur.com/SeaUI.jpg

EDIT #4: Robert has to get going right now "Keep supporting the Georgia Innocence Project! This has been GREAT! See you all next time!" Clarence is sticking around though!!!!!

EDIT #5: Clarence is finishing up. His parting words: "It has been very fun and I appreciate you all being so interested in what it has been like for an innocent man to have been falsely imprisoned. I have to say this technology stuff has really gone a long way. I would have never believed that you could have so much fun with people and not even be able to see them. And I look forward to this adventure in the future, and it truly was an adventure due to the fact that I STILL do not know what we are doing."

If you want to contact Clarence, you can email him at [email protected] or you can send regular mail to the Georgia Innocence Project, 2645 N. Decatur Road, Decatur, GA 30033

Comments: 3547 • Responses: 35  • Date: 

GinnyN1371 karma

How many times have people steered away from you because you were in prison?

Have you had difficulties finding a job?

What was the first thing you did once you were out of prison?

GIPExonerees2481 karma

C: I haven't had anyone sneer away from me because they have been more interested in how I survived being in prison for something I didn't do. The first thing I did when I got out of prison was to do whatever people suggested that I do because I hadn't adapted to the so-called "free world" yet.

R: The first thing I did when I went Steak and Ale but the second thing I did was go to Hooters.

OneMoreStatistic1352 karma

What kind of compensation did you get?

GIPExonerees2173 karma

C: A slap in the face. You can't compensate for all the years that I spent in prison. But, on the other hand, where is my security? Because, we are not able to receive social security.

R: They needed to perhaps have more support in place for those like us who have been gone so long and wrongfully convicted. I had to wait for a long time for compensation and for support.

bri-bird1327 karma

Mr Harrison and Mr Clark, I've read articles on the psychology of being an innocent person in jail and how there have been a very select few cases where the accused and imprisoned person started to believe they had done the crime just to make their situation more bearable. My questions are: Did either of you ever resort to that kind of self-treatment, trying to pretend like you had done it to justify being in prison? Also, do you think either of you could ever get over the hatred towards others of being wrongfully accused?

I am truly sorry what happened to the both of you, I wish our justice system could improve itself so this never had to happen to another man or woman again.

GIPExonerees1395 karma

C: I began to question myself about how I could have done something that I couldn't remember? Because, I could not understand how I could have been convicted of these crimes and how I became involved in these crimes. But, I realized that I was not going to be a victim while in prison so I began to use the fact that I had not committed the crime to make it easier for me to be able to survive by knowing I have already been convicted for any crime I may have to commit to survive in prison.

stothepowerof31142 karma

Did your family believe in your innocence? Have they welcomed you back with open arms?

GIPExonerees2190 karma

C: My family has always believed in my innocence but have always been bitter because they were not financially able to provide me with adequate representation.

R: Yes, my family always believed. My mother, my sister, my children. They always believed and gave me support because they knew me back then. After 20 years and me still there for something I didn't do and my family seeing the commercials saying "innocent until proven guilty" but I was still there....so they let doubt slip into their minds, except my mother. They asked for me to accept their apology after I was released. My mother passed away a year before I was released but she always believed that I was innocent.

Cole931065 karma

I am a college student in Kansas who does news segments for a local TV station. I aspire to create documentaries as a future career. Not the kind that are dull or, to be honest, boring, but the kind that emotionally/mentally move people. Shot in the dark here, but It would be an honor to film a mini-doc about you gentleman. Any chances of this happening?

GIPExonerees1118 karma

R: Yes. Please contact the Georgia Innocence Project. :) http://www.ga-innocenceproject.org/contact.html

sico0071055 karma

This might be a bit sensitive but how do you feel hearing Mike Tyson say after leaving jail, the he wished he "actually" did rape the girl in question? At any point, did you become so bitter that you actually wished you did commit the crime?

GIPExonerees1637 karma

C: I can relate to that. That was not abnormal for him to think that way. I had no animosity against the victim but I was mad.

R: We were both victims. I forgave her but I knew who committed the crime when I was in prison. I forgave him too.

Meeeeh750 karma

What are your feelings regarding the justice system? How would you change it? Thanks for the AMA!

GIPExonerees1607 karma

R: I would change somethings like advertising "you're innocent until proven guilty" because you're actually "guilty until proven innocent." I sat 24 years a "guilty" man so how is that commercial right?

C: I would make sure that the District Attorneys do their duty to first thoroughly and completely investigate all cases prior to ANY indictment so that attorneys can have an actual, full and complete opportunity to accurately represent their clients. If they don't investigate what the police give them, then attorneys are not presenting all the evidence.

Salacious-595 karma

Have you spoken with the prosecutors or jurors who were involved in your original trials? If so, what happened?

GIPExonerees1485 karma

R: Yes, I spoke with the Public Defender for my case, who is now a judge, and the attorney that represented me during trial. Long conversation with both and all of us were happy. The Lord covered me the entire 24 years that I was there. I never spoke with the District Attorney.

C: I spoke with the DA but I am still angry with the DA because he is still patting himself on the back for having a "fair trial" and "doing their best." How can they still pat themselves on the back when I was innocent?

drdanieldoom560 karma

How would you react if you saw the victims of crimes that weren't yours in public?

GIPExonerees1534 karma

C: I wouldn't react. Just another person.

R: tips his hat "How are you doing, ma'am?" And then just keep on going because we were both victims. I can relate to her hurt because I can relate to mine.

TheSpeakeasy525 karma

Who funds the Innocence Project? I would like to give some funding ;)

GIPExonerees649 karma

http://www.ga-innocenceproject.org/donations.html [ GIP is a VERY small non-profit, independent of the New York Innocence Project.]

C: Thank you for your support.

R: Continue to donate more so that others, not just me and Clarence, can come home. Because without the Innocence Project, we would still be in there.

PulpFact461 karma

I just want to say that after a combined four decades of unnecessary time served, there's no need to apologize for having car trouble..

GIPExonerees305 karma

Thank you! We appreciate that!

ANONYMAU5-420452 karma

How did you find out about Reddit and IAmA ?

GIPExonerees1090 karma

R: The hot blonde. ;)

C&R: We are having a great time!

[deleted]433 karma


GIPExonerees1133 karma

C: I always believed that I would prove my innocence if I survived long enough for the future to catch up with my case. I'm a sci-fi freak, and I always believed that I would be cleared through the use of DNA. The Bible says the blood of your brother cries out. That's DNA.

R: Prayer kept me sane. Faith. With me having life without parole. My mother and the support of other convicts in prison. I tried to prove my innocence by habeas corpuses and all, but I kept getting denied because I couldn't argue with the attorneys.

cjh413 karma

is the hottie GIP intern single?

GIPExonerees942 karma

C: She wouldn't be safe between these two guys if she was. ;)

Blakwulf399 karma

What's the worst thing that happened to you guys in prison?

GIPExonerees1054 karma

C: I had cancer. I had my right kidney removed. I was in contact with tuberculosis: everyone in the prison got TB pills.

I lost my mother and my sisters and all of my faith and belief.

R: The Lord called up some of my loved ones when I was in prison. Getting sick in prison from tattoos.

Luchichi390 karma

describe in detail how it felt to walk out of prison after all those years

GIPExonerees807 karma

C: More frightening than walking into prison because I had no idea how society would accept my release of such crimes as those in which I was falsely accused of.

R: Joyful. Grateful. No anger. No hatred, animosity, or revenge. I didn't have any negative and bad thoughts because I didn't want to go back.

GoodWoodKU353 karma

What is your opinion on the death penalty, in light of seeing the justice system completely fail both of you?

GIPExonerees899 karma

C: I don't believe in the death penalty because the courts have yet to show that they are able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the guilt of the accused.

R: Me neither. I don't believe in the death penalty. There have been innocent people executed who shouldn't have been. For example, Troy Davis and others. You cannot take a life for a life, nor an eye for an eye.

tigerraaaaandy339 karma

What was your experience like working with the Innocence Project? How long did they represent you? If it was an extended period of time, did you struggle with the fact that the students you were working with finished their time with the program and left you behind?

GIPExonerees933 karma

R: [Note: Robert worked with the Innocence Project out of New York but GIP was local counsel] Once GIP learned of me being in prison, I was home before I knew it. The intern working on my case kept the case even after she graduated...until I came home. My experience was wonderful. More support than the entire time that I was in prison.

C: In prison: I used to wait for the mail to get a letter from GIP because I was writing them letters every month to hear their response and the hope in which the interns provided me. The interns never left me. Every single one of the interns that worked on my case came to my wedding and still, as of today, have not forgotten nor have I forgotten them. And GIP will always be a part of my life because I am completely a part of GIP.

tigerraaaaandy260 karma

Were you ever asked to come to terms with an admission to your crime in an effort to increase your chances of parole? If so, please describe any thoughts that you might have experienced during that period.

GIPExonerees544 karma

C: Yes. I was asked to participate in a sexual offender class in which I got highly offended and locked down because they said that I overreacted because of my refusal to participate in such stupidity.

R: If I had been eligible for parole, I would be able to answer this question. But, I had life without parole. I did not have parole to look forward to.

[deleted]255 karma

What would you change about the American prison system?

GIPExonerees589 karma

C: Food and the sleeping conditions. The food is not for humans. And the sleeping conditions are inhuman. And it only makes the incarceration inhuman.

R: Education. There is less education in there now than when I went in. There is not enough supporters out here. Lack of communication with your loved ones. Need more help with the bacteria in jails because the conditions are unhumanizing.

Aregular89212 karma

Have you seen The Shawshank Redemption?

GIPExonerees448 karma

C: Yes. But, the Memphis Three movie (Paradise Lost) was more realistic and, also, raised questions, once again, about our justice system.

R: Yes. It was a good movie and I could relate to his feelings of incarcerated and wanting out.

_Thrillhouse_190 karma

What were you hoping to do with your lives pre-conviction?

GIPExonerees414 karma

C: I wanted to be a family man and own my own business.

R: Since I was partially working for my family's business, I wanted to open my own restaurant.

NByrns184 karma

Are you guys in like amazing shape?

GIPExonerees374 karma

C: YES! I probably could do 100 push-ups if the price is right but let me stick with 50 and have fun. :)

R: No. After not having to pick up iron every day, there is nothing to keep me in shape out here.

PRAISEninJAH177 karma

What is your (Clarence and Robert) relationship now? Did you know each other in prison?

GIPExonerees405 karma

We did not know each other in prison. Since we had the same lawyers at GIP who brought us home, we can relate to each other. We are friends. It's the reason we were both late today; we were together.

Zendu174 karma

Law student here: What is one thing you wish your public defender had said/asked?

GIPExonerees320 karma

R: I didn't have a Public Defender. I wish my lawyer have had the test done on me during the trial. The DNA testing back then might have still proven me innocent.

C: "How did you become involved in this case prior to the police's photograph line-up and the identification?" Because I spent 18 years asking myself that question.

ProfRed162 karma

How has this changed your views on religion in any way?

Did either of you ever consider suicide at any point?

GIPExonerees353 karma

R: It only built a better and stronger relationship with the Father. It should be as strong in prisons as it is outside.

C: I believe that prison is the crossroad on which the Lord takes people to bring them to him to do his will.

Had_To_Switch152 karma

Did you guys ever lose hope?

How often were you updated about your cases throughout the years?

Do you ever go back to jail to visit inmates you became friends with?

GIPExonerees248 karma

C: No, I go back to prisons to speak to prisoners as a motivational speaker.

R: Yes. I have a cousin that is in prison.

ihatewil125 karma

How did the other inmates treat you? Did they know you are innocent?

GIPExonerees309 karma

C: Most inmates never accepted that I was in prison for those crimes because they believed it did not fit my character or personality.

randomcheesecake555121 karma

Did you meet anybody else in prison who you thought was genuinely innocent? Did lots of people who actually had committed crimes claim they hadn't? Thank you for answering so many of these questions so well.

GIPExonerees204 karma

C: Not everyone claimed they were innocent. Nor can they maintain such a claim without being actually innocent because only the innocent can maintain their innocence. Because, years, time, and insults will cause such a person to give into their guilt.

R: No. Lots of men who were in prison admitted that they were guilty and I met a few that were innocent. There were more in there that would admit that they were guilty of their crimes than innocent.

cydonia90109 karma

Do you feel, personally, that being having dark skin had any influence in your prosecution?

GIPExonerees401 karma

C: Not being a black man but a POOR man not being able to afford adequate representation.

michaelbuddy101 karma

There's a kid named Ryan Ferguson locked up in Missouri for a crime with no evidence and all witneses proclaim that the prosecutors forced them to name Ryan, though they have all recanted. I'd like to help him but i'm not sure how. Any recommendations? Do you know his story?

GIPExonerees144 karma

GIP: They need to contact their local Innocence Project. You cannot contact the Innocence Project on their behalf; they need to write the letter themselves.

robynnehay86 karma

Did you become involved in prison politics?

GIPExonerees176 karma

R: Yes. In trying to get better things to work with (like preventing germs and disease and living conditions), I wrote letters, talked to the wardens, etc. With other prisoners, I asked other inmates to help me work on my case.

C: Yes. I got involved in a lot of riots about food, beds, space, treatment, and petitions for prison rights. And, I got the name "ChainGang." It means "institutionalized" and a "veteran."

Googlybearhug4u47 karma

after your extended stays out of the public, are you finding it difficult to adjust to life outside? has counseling been offered to help you 'normalize'? how long before you got a normal date with a lady?

GIPExonerees113 karma

R: How do you define "normal"? But, in all seriousness, my son's mother showed up from wherever after I was released. But, she is gone now. I haven't met a normal woman yet.

C: 17 days after I was released from prison, I was "confined" into marriage.

Iunchbox27 karma

Have you ever been on a vacation? Where would you like to visit?

What are some new hobbies you've acquired since being out of prison?

GIPExonerees56 karma

C: I actually haven't been on vacation. I go on speaking engagement trips but would love to have a vacation somewhere such as Las Vegas because I still like to gamble because gambling is how I ate in prison, because if I didn't win, I didn't eat. This is because I was unable to make commissary since I didn't have financial funds coming to me in prison due to the fact I had shut everyone out from the so-called "free world."

Noldorian11 karma

I am glad your innocence was proved. No innocent man deserves prison. What was the first thing you thought when you stepped outside into the fresh air? What was the first biggest initial shock For you mr clark and mr harrison?

GIPExonerees21 karma

C: I was overwhelmed and did not know how to actually accept the fact of having freedom. It was too much to accept.