Otis Johnson, who was only 25 years old when he was imprisoned in 1975, was freed last summer, 44 years after being imprisoned. He was only given an ID, case-related paperwork, two bus tickets, and $40 after being taken away from society for trying to kill a police officer. Johnson was supposed to navigate the modern world alone as he had no family or outside help.
“I had seen that everybody, or the majority of the people, were talking to themselves. Then I looked closer and they seemed to have things in their ears–with the phone things. iPhones, they call them, or something like that? And I thought to my mind, what, everybody became CIA or agents and stuff like that?”
Al-Jazeera English accompanied Johnson as he returned to a city he hardly recognized and was amazed by the cutting-edge food and technology all around him. Johnson is finally able to start a new life outside of prison thanks to help from Fortune Society, a nonprofit organization that offers housing and services to ex-offenders in New York City.
“Everything happens for a reason, I believe. So I try to let that go and deal with the future instead of dealing with the past.”