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Anthony Wright Reflects on Fatherhood and Father’s Day Post-Exoneration

By Carlita Salazar

Anthony Wright at the 2017 Innocence Network Conference in San Diego, CA. Photo by Erin G. Wesley.

For Father’s Day we interviewed some of our exonerated clients who spent years–sometimes decades–in prison, separated from their children. We are thrilled that they are finally free and reunited with their loved ones. We also take this time to think about the countless number of fathers in prison who are still fighting for justice.

Name: Anthony Wright
Exoneration Day: August 23, 2016

Last year when the Innocence Blog spoke to you for Father’s Day, you were still wrongfully incarcerated. Following your exoneration at your retrial last August, you were released. What have the past nine months been like for you as a father and grandfather?

It’s amazing and it’s weird. For so long I was on the inside looking out. It was hard to know what life was going to be like on the outside. Since being released and at home, it’s been the best time but it’s been a hard time.

There’s a lot that my son and I are still trying to figure out. We’ve had disagreements since I’ve been out; sometimes we go a little while without speaking. That’s never happened before. For 25 years when I was in prison, we worked hard to maintain communication. We didn’t argue. It’s an adjustment now.

Anthony Wright’s son, Tony Jr., and granddaughter.

And it’s about more than just me and him now; there’s also my granddaughter. She’s got me wrapped around her finger. My son recently got married and moved to Ohio, so now I don’t get to see her as much. But we FaceTime all the time. And he’s bringing her to spend the summer with me. It’s going to be such a good time. We’re going to have a lot of fun.

What are your plans for Father’s Day?

My son is coming out to see me. I’ve already told people, “Don’t call me on Father’s Day. Don’t ask me to do anything. I’m going to be with my son.” I just want to spend time with him.

We’re going to go out to eat. We’re going to see a Phillies game. We’re going to Dave & Busters to play some games. It’s going to be amazing for us to just be together.

While he’s visiting, a sports documentary film crew will be following us. We’re going to go to his high school where he played football. And then we’re going to one of the prison facilities where I was wrongly incarcerated and played football.

You know, my son’s football career was such a highlight for me when I was in prison. On Friday nights after his local games, I would be in my cell, tuned in to the local news station so that I could hear how he had done that night. My friends would be in their cells watching other channels. As soon as they’d hear his name on the news they’d yell, “Yo, Tony! I see Tony Jr. on TV!”

Sometimes now, I watch videos of him when he was younger, while I was still in prison. I see my son; he stood tall. I’m so proud of him. I tell him, “God, you’re an awesome dude.”

Anthony was represented by Innocence Project Co-Director Peter Neufeld and Senior Attorney Nina Morrison; Samuel Silver of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP; Rebecca Lacher of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP

5 Comments

  1. August Coombs

    Wow! This story is amazing and inspirational. I have followed this agency since 1992 and have always wanted to be apart of innocence recovery and Freedom. I am extremely happy for you and your family. Much love.

  2. Claudia

    OMG! I am so touched, my husband is waiting for judgement and we are heart broken that he was found guilty after alleged victim confessed to have lied. The unknown is the scariest part but at least justice was made in your case. God bless!

  3. Dorsa Smith

    Awesome move of God…Amazing story. I worked 26 years in Corrections. And you hear people say I’m innocent I didn’t do this crime. Who am I to judge? I say maybe not. So I was always fair, respectful, and did my job. Never abusing my authority because I feel to this day that some of those young men and women were telling the truth. My heart goes out to those behind those walls wrongfully convicted. May God continue to bless and carry you.

  4. This cases really touched me as well as any case where someone is wrongfully put in prison. My husband is going Thur the same thing, I pray everyday The Innocent program get to his name.all I do is Pray and look to God. People don’t know what type of stress they put on people lives just to say they solve a case. Your a strong man some people kills themselves out of stress. God is Good. We still have good people in world. Your angles are free now Mrs. Jackson (sad and lost)

  5. STEVEN GOETSCH

    Wrongful imprisonment is not just a Philly problem, believe me in Wisconsin it is rampent! The laws must be changed to make the Police investigators, D.A. office, and Prosecutors accountable for there actions! When jury trials find someone innocent the State should be held responsible for attorneys fees, and loss off income. As it is now there is no repercussions to the State and Prosecutors would think twice about railroading innocent people for the sake of a “conviction” to close a case or look good for the media.

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