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William Blue: Champion

At 22 years of age, William “Bill” Blue was a self-described high school dropout with limited prospects, immaturity, and poor decision-making skills. On January 18, 1994, Bill and his cousin were out drinking at a bar with a friend. A bar brawl ended in the friend being seriously injured and left to die. Bill pled guilty to assault and was sentenced to 30 years to Life in prison.

After serving 20 years, Bill was eligible for parole, but he was denied. In 2015, Bill was taken to the hospital for pneumonia. Within minutes, he was unconscious. During his coma, Bill’s heart stopped beating for eight and a half minutes.

When he awoke twelve days later, his arms and legs were black from necrosis, a result of the medication used to treat his pneumonia. In August, doctors amputated both his arms – below the elbow on his left and 6 inches above the elbow on his right – and both his legs six inches below the knees. Bill was released from the hospital back to prison a quadruple amputee.

The Ohio Justice & Policy Center advocated for Bill’s reconsideration to the parole board. Bill requires high-level medical and personal care for the remainder of his life. After a year of physical therapy and poorly-fitting prosthetic legs, Bill still requires assistance eating, bathing, dressing, brushing his teeth, toileting, and nearly every other function necessary for daily living. Though many would despair, Bill views this last year as confirmation that with faith and familial support, we can weather any storm.

Throughout his incarceration, Bill earned his GED, received stellar work reviews, gained conflict management and communications skills, and participated fully and productively in institutional life. He became an active member of the church taking on many leadership roles, including being active in the Kairos Prison Ministry. Bill shared this passion with his friend Teresa.

OJPC successfully assisted in obtaining Bill’s release on parole. Bill is living with his now-fiance Teresa. Bill explains, “If it hadn’t been for OJPC, I would still be in prison.” Teresa adds, “I would still be worrying about the lack of care he was receiving.”

After 22 years of incarceration, missing most of his children’s lives, and never seeing his grandchildren, Bill is busy rebuilding relationships with his children and enjoying being a grandfather.

Bill and Teresa are giving back to their community through a charity club by providing clothing and toiletries to homeless veterans. Bill is learning about all the changes in past two decades, and is totally amazed at the World Wide Web. He meets with his Parole Officer three times a month, twice at the office and once at home.

Expressing their gratitude to OJPC staff attorney Tiffanny Smith, “We both have started singing karaoke and we’re really enjoying being together. You started us on this new chapter in our lives.”