Wrongfully convicted man enjoys first day of freedom in 32 years

One day after his release from prison, Thomas Raynard James is happy to be a free man.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Fresh off his release from prison, Thomas Raynard James is happy to be a free man.

“I woke up to my mother’s voice, and she was actually talking to me, she wasn’t telling me get up or get out or nothing like that,” James said.

From his mother’s house, Local 10 News asked him what his first 24 hours out of prison have been like.

“I did go get me a Popeyes sandwich, so we good on that,” he said.

Aside from enjoying the delicious chicken, James has been able to reconnect with family and friends.

People I haven’t seen in 30-something years, and then I’m meeting family members that weren’t even living when I left the streets,” he said.

James told Local 10 News’ Joseph Ojo that adjusting to life outside will be no easy task, but with a fresh start, he plans to spend a lot of time with his 80-year-old mother and be an advocate for change in the criminal justice system.

It was Wednesday morning when a judge vacated James’ sentence for a 1990 robbery and murder in Coconut Grove.

Following a conviction for something he didn’t do, 32 years were snatched away from James.

He maintained his innocence until the end.

James is now thankful for freedom, and he shared an observation he has noticed since getting out.

“I’m just realizing that most people don’t listen to the radio,” he said.

A GoFundMe page has been created by James’ family to help him start a new life. A link to the page can be found by clicking here.

About the Author:

Joseph Ojo joined Local 10 in April 2021. Born and raised in New York City, he previously worked in Buffalo, North Dakota, Fort Myers and Baltimore.