All writing is a form of prayer - John Keats

Friday, May 28, 2021


TWTWTW, better known as TW3, was the title of a BBC TV comedy show in the 1960s. The letters stood for these words: That was the week that was! 

Today I’m reminded of that title. This has been one amazing week! Not one, but two clients of HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS, both wrongly convicted, walked free! 

The good news: Ray Gray and Gilbert Poole are free! 

The bad news: Combined, they spent 80 years behind bars for something they didn’t do! 

The big question: Will either of them ever get paid by the state? 

Raymond Gray, 69, served 48 years after being convicted of killing someone in an armed robbery. He was actually at home at the time. Sadly, he was not exonerated. His attorney was able to arrange a plea deal with the Wayne County Prosecutor and a judge. Ray walked out of the Muskegon Correctional Facility Tuesday afternoon. 

Gilbert Poole, 56, served 32 years after being convicted of stabbing a man to death in Pontiac. This many years later, DNA evidence proved conclusively that he was not the killer. Gilbert walked out of the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson Thursday morning. 

These two men will be the first to acknowledge that gifts like these don’t just fall like manna from heaven. It takes years of hard work, prayer, and downright legal wrangling. 

In addition to all of that, it helps immensely when someone is there to hold their hand, to offer encouragement, to help with a toothache or medical problem. That’s where HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS comes in. 

Former HFP Board Chair Dan Rooks once expressed his pride in our organization’s reputation of not abandoning our friends, so I share a couple of numbers with you. Believing in his innocence, I began working with Ray Gray 17 years ago! I was at the prison gate to welcome him. Believing in his innocence, Cooley Law School Innocence Project attorney Marla Mitchell-Cichon (a member of the HFP Board of Directors) began working with Gilbert Poole 18 years ago! She was at the prison gate to welcome him. 

In closing I just want to say that I hope Ray Gray continues his fight for exoneration, so he can collect $2.4 million owed him by the state. And I wish Gilbert Poole success as he attempts to collect the $1.6 million settlement owed him! That money won’t help recover all the lost years, but it will help even the score and ease the pain. 

"We will never know what our life would have been like had we not gone through this horrible experience."

Exoneree Yusef Salaam

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