Tyra Patterson spent 23 years of her life in prison for a crime she did not commit. Not knowing how to read or write at the time of her incarceration, she has just received an honorary bachelor's degree from the Cincinnati Academy of the Arts.
When she was only 19 years old, Tyra Patterson was jailed for a crime she says she did not commit. For 23 years, she spent her life in a prison cell. Paroled on Christmas Day in 2017, she has now completed her General Educational Development exams and wishes highlight mass incarceration and wrongful convictions.
The young woman has just received an honorary bachelor's degree from the Cincinnati Academy of the Arts after her address to the graduates. “When I gave a speech in front of these amazing students, I couldn't help but think, 'What am I doing here? I dropped out in sixth grade. When they surprised me with the degree I felt like I graduated. I never had that chance, and I really felt like I was a part of it. I felt worthy, like that to me. made it possible to realize that I'm fine, I'm important. ", she explained very moved to CNN.
According to his lawyer David Singleton, this diploma is well deserved because Tyra Patterson is "tout simply brilliant ". "She has really made a difference in her community and across the country. She is an example of what it means to never give up hope and make the most of your life under the worst of circumstances.", did he declare.
Tyra Patterson's story begins in 1994, when 15-year-old Michelle Lai was killed in a robbery near her apartment. Witness to the tragedy, she voluntarily went to the police station to answer questions from the authorities. She found herself forced to confess to the crime because she was in possession of a necklace that she found near the scene of the murder. She was then sentenced to 43 years in prison.
Very poor and homeless, she left school at the age of 11 and could not read or write while in prison. In prison, she then decided to catch up with her school career. Today she is a Community Outreach Strategy Specialist for the Ohio Justice & Policy Center.
While in detention, she became a certified GED tutor, completed a paralegal training program and received an engineering license. "I vowed to myself to be the person who would dedicate themselves to showing children how much they can change the world. I want to talk to all the students who will allow me to. I stress that kindness will open up opportunities for them. doors that education will not open to them"She said. She is also an artist who refined her art during her detention.
Tyra Patterson was released from prison in 2017 shortly after the victim's sister, Holly Lai Holbrook, wrote to the governor of Ohio requesting her release, assuring she was not involved in the theft. Holly Lai Holbrook did not dare to speak out, fearing the reactions of her family. If Tyra Patterson is now free, she is still fighting to have her name cleared.
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