Edward Sanders was just 17 when he was told that he would never be a free man. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole as an accessory to a homicide, even though he never personally hurt anyone or even pulled the trigger of a gun. That happened in 1975.
I can’t imagine what that moment must have been like, but Sanders said it was “devastating,” and that he relived it every day for the next 42 years. But even so, he never lost hope that he would one day be free again, no matter what the judge said.
“I had hope through a nourishing relationship with my creator,” Sanders said. “I looked for ways to serve others. Anytime I felt like there was no hope for me, I looked for ways to give hope to others.”
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2012 that said that it was “cruel and unusual punishment” to sentence juveniles to life without parole, and therefore unconstitutional, brought a ray of hope in to Sanders’ world. Still, it would take another four years for Sanders to walk out of prison as a free man.
Take a moment to get to know Sanders and then read his own words about is first year of freedom.
I believe in second chances. It’s what we all want for ourselves. None of us want to be forever known for our worst moment. We all have the ability to move on from that moment, and the vast majority of us do.
I’ve had my second chance. In fact, I’ve had many of them. Maybe you have, too. I’m glad Sanders finally got his, too.
Via Safe & Just Michigan: Former Juvenile Lifer Reflects on His First Year of Freedom