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No Way Out

In the January/February issue, Barbara Bradley Hagerty wrote about Benjamine Spencer, a convict trying to prove his innocence without DNA evidence.


I spent 12 years at the H. H. Coffield Unit with Spencer, and I’ll never forget the first time I saw him. Another prisoner pointed him out: “That’s Spencer, the barber; he’s innocent.” An outsider wouldn’t understand how extraordinary those words were. Among inmates, a guy claiming innocence is such a bloated cliché, it’s beneath contempt. We all know there are countless innocent men inside, yet it’s still a surprise when someone we’ve known for years gets exonerated. Even after my 21 years of incarceration, Spencer remains the only one I’ve ever known to be exempt from this general skepticism. That in itself speaks volumes about Spencer.

I understand that Ms. Hagerty’s focus in her splendid article was the

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