For each of our exoneree interviews, we’re taking your questions that you want us to ask, and the answers will be able to be viewed in the online archive, which will contain the interviews in their entirety. However, we thought you might like to see the answers sooner than that, so we’re publishing them here on our blog after each one.

Submit your questions for each of our exonerees on our Facebook, via Twitter by using the hashtag #oneforten or by emailing them to info@oneforten. Next up is Clarence Brandley, whose story is one of blatant racism, misconduct and lies. Check it out here and then shout out what you want us to ask him by Saturday!

johncropHere are John’s answers to your questions:

From Jim Misiano: Is he mad at Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for ruling against the 14 million dollars?

Yeah I was mad but not with just him, I was mad with all five of them. He was a duck to be honest with you. The man hadn’t said a word in like 4, 5 or 6 years, that was his first time coming out and to come out against a decision like that, when you know that their office alone had overturned 4 or 5 cases out of this particular office, New Orleans Parish. For him to say that we didn’t show a pattern. Why did we have to show a pattern when your court is the one that’s been overturning these cases?

So I was not just mad with him, maybe more with him because he was the one that wrote the decision when he hadn’t wrote nothing or said nothing in all them years, I think that wasn’t the one he should have come out on. And I believe it was deliberately given to him too, to do it so it wouldn’t be a racist kind of matter so played in to the Uncle Tom role all the way down the line. But I’m more mad with all five of them because five made the decision, not one.

From Lisa Welsh Robbins: What are some of the key factors needed to re-integrate exonerates into society? Do those factors differ from re-integrating a prisoner who has done his time and is released (as opposed to someone exonerated)?

Exactly the same trauma, there’s no difference. We might weigh the fact that that individual is innocent and serving time, so his stress could be greater. I don’t believe that, I really don’t. I can’t really answer that question because I’ve never been in there for something I did. But I’m assuming that if I am guilty of something and I’m in prison, I’m still being away from everything I love and everything that I would like to do, so I don’t think that changes whether you did it or not. Everybody wants their freedom, everybody wants their choice, the opportunity not to have your choices made for you. In prison, choices are made for you.

So whether you’re innocent or not, I don’t think that has anything to do with the condition that you’re living under and the things that you’re going to have to endure while you’re there. I think everybody’s going to go through the same thing, that aspect of prison life. So then everybody needs the same kind of recovery, the same type of treatment to build their life back up again. Because it’s like when you drop someone in Vietnam or in war, the mentality that they take upon, how they got to adjust their life to violence and everything that’s around them. It’s the same in prison, you have to readjust your life, you’re not used to anything like that, you’re not used to that type of lifestyle. So you have to learn how to adjust with that and deal with that and cope with that.

Whether you’re innocent or not, that’s the reality, so I don’t think it’s no different. I think we both deserve the same type of help, the same type of consideration when we come home because we still have to rebuild our life. If you want me to be a productive citizen, you need to help me become a productive citizen. Well when you don’t want me to be a productive citizen, when I slip and do something, you need to accept that, because you need to know that you didn’t give me any help or you didn’t reach out to help yourself.

From Terri Hunt:  After 18 years on death row, what has John found to be the hardest thing to deal with upon his reintroduction to society after exoneration? 

What you lost you can’t get back. I think that’s the hardest thing, [the] rebuilding period. The fact that I lost 18 years. That was my youth…I think what I can’t get back is them years I lost with my sons, my grandmother died while I was in prison, my father died while I was in prison. Those are the hardest things…learning how to be a father without those coaches. You took those coaches away from me, you know what I’m saying? You took a part of me that I can’t get back.

Yeah I have my freedom now, yeah I can go on with life but I’m still missing that, I’m still missing that nourishing that a mother would give, a father would give to his son, to show me how to be a better father…I don’t even know how to be a father, you took that away from me too. So now I’m dealing with grown men, my sons were 6 and 4 I come home and they’re 24 and 22, I don’t have any right to get in to their life, you know? This is how I’m supposed doing that when they was young, you took that away from me. That’s hard to deal with.

I’ve just been blessed to have the right supporting cast but what happens to most of those guys, they go right back to prison. 90 percent of them go right back and especially right here in Louisiana…So right now I’ve done beat all the odds you know. I never had no serious problems yet, with the law. As a matter of fact, now I get the chance to teach them, make them understand that we’re humans too. I get a chance to go teach to would-be lawyers, make them understand how important it is that they honor their job, that they honor their commitment…I love being that extra hand now. I love going from one side of the fence to the other side and try to make sure that this don’t happen to other families. To try to do anything in my power .Why God put me on this Earth [is] to do something to make sure that this don’t happen to the next… I had to go through all that to do all this. You know, that’s the exchange. But I still wish I could have some of that back.

I don’t believe that if that hadn’t happened to me that I’d be doing what I’m doing now. So I love what I’m doing now, I love having that opportunity to help others when they come home. It’s crazy that that had to make me this, but I love who I am now and I wouldn’t trade that for nothing in the world. And the sad part of that is that made me who I am now.