Former Death Row Inmate Gary Tyler Backing California Anti-Death Penalty Measure

Gary Tyler was released from prison 41 years after being convicted of murdering a 13-year-old white boy in 1974. While on death row as the youngest inmate, human rights organizations and journalists vouched for his release.

Gary Tyler has a new lease on life after serving 41 years in Louisiana State Penitentiary, including two years on death row, for a crime he says did not commit. In his “Live at Truthdig” interview on Oct. 13, Tyler described how he is navigating adulthood after a near-lifetime in the prison system, with the help of a support network that spans the United States. Tyler explained to Truthdig Publisher Zuade Kaufman, Editor in Chief Robert Scheer and Deputy Editor Kasia Anderson why he is advocating to abolish the death penalty during this election cycle.

“I realized that even though I escaped the death penalty, even after having a date [for execution], that it left a profound impact on me,” Tyler told the Truthdig team. “I always told myself that if [I was] ever been put in a position where I can advocate against the death penalty, then I would do it. And when I heard about Proposition 62, I felt that that was my calling.”

He talked about how becoming acquainted with other death row prisoners changed his life. Even after being taken off death row, he continued to visit the prisoners there:

I have gotten to know those individuals … that they were putting on death row because, mind you, even after I was removed off death row, I was not removed from the facility itself. They kept me in the same building, in which case I was in CCR [closed cell restricted, or solitary confinement], so I came in contact with the death row prisoners, and I’ve gotten to know many of them who became friends, especially the ones who [were] raised hearing about my case. Robert Williams is one of them, in particular, and he was the first execution in the state of Louisiana after 22 years. I’ll never forget that face when I encountered him. … You could see a dead man—a man who was resigned to the fact that he was going to die.

After the Facebook Live interview, Tyler also discussed how other death row inmates saw innocence within him as well as how he would rehabilitate the criminal justice system.

Watch the video below.

Posted by KiMi Robinson

KiMi Robinson
KiMi Robinson joined the Truthdig team in September 2016 as an intern and recent graduate of Loyola Marymount University with a B.A. in English. With bylines in online publications from The Hollywood Reporter…
KiMi Robinson

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