It’s no secret that the United States’ justice system is inhumane, unsustainable, and in serious need of an overhaul. But until then, one awesome non-profit is stepping up in a major way by working to overturn the convictions of prisoners who don’t like being in prison.
The group, which is called Operation Fresh Air, employs a team of dozens of lawyers and legal advocates whose mission is to fight for inmates who are scared or bored of living in prison.
The amazing difference Operation Fresh Air is having on the world is perhaps best highlighted by the case of Michael Terrell, who faced a life sentence for double homicide, but was contacted by OFA when they learned that he hated living in prison because the food wasn’t as good as at home, he was surrounded by violent criminals, and he had to stay locked in drab cell for much of the day. OFA sent a legal team to meet with Michael, and after learning that he also didn’t like wearing a prison jumpsuit and much preferred the jeans and T-shirts that he was allowed to wear outside of prison, they began putting together an official appeal that would overturn Michael’s conviction and win his freedom. Over the next 18 months, OFA’s team worked on Michael’s case around the clock and on July 8, 2018—13 years into his life sentence—Michael walked out of the prison whose bad smell and cold floors he disliked so much, a free man once again.
Absolutely beautiful. The work Operation Fresh Air is doing is so, so important.
Sadly, Michael’s case is not unusual. “We estimate that as many as 25 percent of convicted prisoners in the U.S. hate being stuck in prison and would like to go back to being free,” said Cheryl Affenti, director of Operation Fresh Air. “The shocking reality is that there are hundreds of thousands of people in the American carceral system who enjoy spending their time however they want and living in comfortable houses with their families much more than being forced to follow the strict schedule and mundane lifestyle mandated inside of prison.”
Wow. While it’s disheartening to come to terms with the fact that the U.S. currently has countless convicted prisoners sitting behind bars who would much rather be able to up and go to the beach any time they want, it’s heartening to know that OFA is on their side and working to see them live where it’s fun once again. In fact, in just four years, they’ve already overturned the convictions of more than 75 inmates who were having a terrible time living in prison, including a dozen who were on death row. Here’s hoping that number only continues to grow!