Prisoner who is released after 44 YEARS and is left totally bewildered by technology

Prisoner who is released after 44 YEARS and is left totally bewildered by technology

Otis Johnson served 44 years in prison for attempting to kill a cop. A crime he admits to. He is 69 now and was just released from prison with $40 and two bus tickets. He says he is shocked by technology and how much the world has changed. I find that hard to believe. This smacks of propaganda and no wonder… the source is al Jazeera. Johnson says he did not know what cell phones or ear buds were. That he is fascinated by things like Gatorade. There’s a number of problems with his claims. Let’s start with Gatorade, which has been around since 1965. Maybe not in the colors it is now, but it was certainly being sold in the ’70s. They also have televisions, computers and the Internet in prison. Inmates sneak in cell phones as well. Unless the guy stayed in a closet, I don’t get how he couldn’t know about some of this stuff.


From the Daily Mail:

A man who was sent to prison in the 1970s is sharing details about his startling re-entry into modern society, having been locked away for 44 years of his life.

Otis Johnson was 25 when he went to prison for the attempted murder of a police officer, and was just released last summer at the age of 69.

The newly-free senior let an Al Jazeera English camera crew follow him around New York, where he’s had to adjust many things that Americans take for granted, like endless food options, technology, and exponentially higher prices.

In 1970, Otis went away for a crime he admits he committed. During his 44 years behind bars, the world outside changed, and he lost touch with his family around 1998.

Looking back now, he has fond memories of his loved ones. He had twin nieces who he reminisces about, adding that he used to love children.

‘[It] bothers me a lot because I really miss my family,’ he says.

Then, last summer, he got out. The prison gave him his ID, $40, and two bus tickets before sending him on his way.
Otis says he was ‘mainly alone’, but luckily connected with Fortune Society, a nonprofit organization in Harlem that offers housing and other services to former prisoners.

He spends his nights there – always getting back in time for a 9pm curfew – and spends time during the day attending religious services, meditating, and practicing tai chi.

‘Prison affected me a lot,’ he says. ‘My re-entry was a little bit hard at first because things had changed.’

When he first got out of prison and took the subway to Times Square in Midtown Manhattan, he experience major culture shock.

He tried to use a payphone, but was surprised that the price had gone up from 25 cents to a dollar for a four-minute call. Then, though, he realized that most people no longer even use payphones anymore – but understanding that took some time.

‘I had seen that everybody, or the majority of the people, was talking to themselves,’ he says of one of his immediate observations upon getting out. ‘Then I looked closer and they seemed to have things in their ears.’ ​​

He struggles to describe earbuds, eventually remembering the word for iPhone before adding: ‘I thought, to my mind, what, everybody became, you know, CIAs or agents and stuff like that? Because that’s the only thing I can think of, somebody walking around with wires in their ears.’

Even more strange to him was the fact that people are so immersed in technology that they don’t look up at their surroundings.

‘Some people are not even looking where they’re going. So I’m trying to figure out how people do that… control themselves to walk and talk on the phone without even looking where they’re going,’ he says.

But while technology might seem like it accounts for the biggest changes, the smaller, everyday things are what seem to fill Otis with wonder.

‘I eat different things now because I’m looking at all this crazy stuff they’ve got. So I try it out,’ he says, walking around a supermarket and showing excitement over snack cakes and Aunt Jemima cinnamon French toast.

He specifically calls out trying ‘funny dinners’ and ‘different colored drinks – the gator stuff’, noting that he started drinking it – Gatorade – ‘just because it looks funny’ with its bright colors.

‘There’s so many things that you can eat, so it’s a hard choice to pick out really the food that you want. For instance, the peanut butter. It had jelly in it. And I ain’t never seen nothing like that before,’ he says, explaining how strange it was to see both peanut butter and jelly package together in the same jar. Luckily, he’s still able to find classic Skippy, too.

Even though he lost years of freedom, Otis isn’t bitter. He enjoys what he can out of life, listening to other people and families on the bus and simply observing passersby.

‘I’m used to being by myself,’ he says. ‘Being in society is a good feeling.’

Instead of holding onto regret, he works on making the most of his life now, and wants to open a women’s shelter even though he doesn’t have the funds.

‘You gotta let things go because holding on to anger will only stagnate your growth and development,’ he explains. ‘I don’t feel that society owes me anything. Everything happens for a reason, I believe. So I let that go, and deal with the future instead of dealing with the past. I try not to go backwards. I go forwards. And that’s how I survive in society.

This has the feel of bashing the US for our prison system and portraying inmates as victims. I’m not buying it. I’m sure this man has served his time and maybe he is forward thinking. But they showcase him as some kind of saint and innocent. The article is written as if somehow this man was kept in a dungeon for 44 years with absolutely no contact with the outside world. That cannot be the case. I wonder how much they paid him to do this little expose? I wonder who paid for it? The world has certainly changed since he was free, but I am positive he has watched it evolve from within the prison system. Things are much more expensive and food is different, but he would have seen that in commercials. As for cell phones and computers, he would have had limited contact but surely would know of them. The snark about everyone being spies sounds fabricated to me. Maybe I’m just cynical, but this just doesn’t pass the smell test. Propaganda rarely does.










Terresa Monroe-Hamilton

Terresa Monroe-Hamilton is an editor and writer for Right Wing News. She owns and blogs at She is a Constitutional Conservative and NoisyRoom focuses on political and national issues of interest to the American public. Terresa is the editor at Trevor Loudon's site, New Zeal - She also does research at You can email Terresa here. NoisyRoom can be found on Facebook and on Twitter.

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