HUNTSVILLE, Texas – Tyrone Brown walked out of prison Thursday morning, 17 years after a single positive marijuana test while on probation led a Dallas judge to hit him with a life sentence. Brown, who won a conditional pardon last week from Gov. Rick Perry, broke into a wide smile and then cried as he saw the crowd that awaited him: half a church busload of relatives, plus journalists from as far away as New York. “I didn’t believe this day was going to come,” he said.
His mother, Nora Brown, rushed across the street to embrace her son and nearly collapsed, speechless. She then led the crowd in waving goodbye to the high red brick walls and razor wire of the Huntsville unit, where Brown had been processed out of the prison system. She screamed “new life” as she later led the group in prayer.
Brown was 17, poor and had no criminal record when Judge Keith Dean initially put him on probation in 1990, for taking part in an armed robbery in which no one was hurt.
The life sentence that followed attracted national attention last year when The Dallas Morning News contrasted it with another from the same judge’s court ? one in which a well-connected man got probation for murder and, despite several positive tests for cocaine and other violations, still avoided prison.
ABC-TV’s 20/20 news show later featured the same material, leading to formation of a Web-based campaign to free Brown. Dallas County officials and the Texas parole board recommended that his sentence be terminated. So did the man Brown robbed of $2.
Perry agreed to release Brown, but with conditions. Among other things, Brown must report to a parole officer for an indefinite period and get counseling about his re-entry to society.
-Article from KVUE.com News
View a photo slideshow of Tyrone’s release from prison here.