Florida— In 1970, Barney Brown was a 15-year old who was convicted of rape and robbery, and sentenced to life in prison. Thirty-eight years later he was exonerated. Wrongly jailed for 38 years, Brown has a message for today’s young people: Never give up hope.
Brown returned to what should have been his alma mater, ready to tell his story.
Brown’s horrific ordeal started in 1969. The 14-year old from Carver Ranches was accused of raping a woman and robbing her husband. He always claimed his innocence but still went on trial in juvenile court. Because the victim’s story was inconsistent, contradictory and she couldn’t positively identify him as the suspect, Brown was acquitted.
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It wasn’t until 38-years later that Florida’s 11th Judicial Circuit Court overturned his conviction due to the laws of double jeopardy which makes it unconstitutional to be tried on the same charges you’ve already been acquitted of.
While in prison, Brown earned his high school diploma and a college degree. He is currently a paralegal in Miami-Dade County and works with youth programs in the county.
Brown’s passion and focus is to prevent any child from going through what he experienced.
His mother and some of his 1972 classmates were in the audience at Miramar High School Thursday, and the current crop of students were moved by Brown’s story.
And while Brown can never get back the time he lost in jail; the fact that he is keeping kids on the right path and helping them avoid the pain he endured is what gives him hope for the future.