Video Of The Day: Former Prisoner Feels Like He’s Time Traveled After Being Released

Published December 3, 2015

What would a time traveller from the 1970s say if he or she stumbled into our world today? One 69-year-old man has an idea.

“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?”

Otis Johnson was incarcerated in 1975 when he was just 25-years-old, and was released last summer—44 years later. After being removed from society for the attempted murder of a police officer, he was released with just an ID, documents concerning his case, two bus tickets, and $40. Without any family or outside help, Johnson was expected to navigate the modern world alone.

Al-Jazeera English followed Johnson around New York City as he rejoined a metropolis he hardly recognized and marveled at the new food and technology that surrounded him. With aid from Fortune Society, a nonprofit that provides housing and services to ex-prisoners in New York City, Johnson can finally begin a new life outside of prison.

“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.”

Gabrielle Kwarteng
A born and bred New Yorker, Gabrielle Kwarteng is the Social Media Manager for PBH Network. She loves to take street portraits with her Nikon FA and DJ for anyone who'll listen.