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.”

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John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.