For thirty long years, I was a prisoner of the state.
Some, I spent on death row in contemplation of my fate.
I knew that I was innocent and that my brother was too.
But who listens to a Black man and I repeat the question, “Who?”
Can you imagine thirty years in prison for a crime I didn’t commit,
all the nightmares of my murder and the needle in me, they’d stick?
My family did what they could but their pleas were just not heard.
I thought I never would be free and now they say, my sentence’s served.
We were two scared teenage boys, wide-eyed and not real smart.
And then the white men screamed at us and they tore us both apart.
So, today there’s some technology that proved we did no wrong.
There’ll be no tears from those who kept me from where I did belong.
My family’s glad to see me and my brother hugged me tight.
I’m off to tell the kids today to always do what’s right.
I know I did no wrong but prison is no resort.
And I must steer the young away because life is just too short.
Shelby I. Courtland
©2014 Shelby I. Courtland
NC half brothers freed after 3 decades in prison
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s longest-serving death row inmate and his younger half brother walked out as free men Wednesday, three decades after they were convicted of raping and murdering an 11-year-old girl who DNA evidence shows may have been killed by another man.
“I knew one day I was going to be blessed to get out of prison, I just didn’t know when that time was going to be,” McCollum said. “I just thank God that I am out of this place. There’s no anger in my heart. I forgive those people and stuff. But I don’t like what they done to me and my brother because they took 30 years away from me for no reason. But I don’t hate them. I don’t hate them one bit.”
What a big heart you have Mr. McCollum to forgive the taking of 30 years from you that you’ll never be able to get back and they know who did the crime but because you are Black and that automatically makes you guilty no matter how much you plead that you did no wrong, you were found guilty nevertheless, even after the person who allegedly committed the crime told the white officers that you and your brother were innocent. You were on death row, Mr. McCollum and you could so easily have been put to death and it is no thanks to the criminal justice system, no thanks at all. I am not as forgiving Mr. McCollum and so maybe, I have not learned one blessed thing from your big hearted forgiveness and your lack of anger because I am consumed with rage for what was done to you. And not just to you, but to so many, many others who are just like you, innocent and yet guilty because they are Black!