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The Final Chapter in the James Woodard Story

Photo by Misty Keasler

Longtime readers of the magazine will recall the fine story that Curt Sampson wrote for us about James Woodard. In 2008, when Woodard was exonerated, he had spent 27 years in prison for someone else’s crime. At the time, no other Texas exoneree had spent more time behind bars. The thing I’ll never forget about Woodard: he could have gotten out of prison sooner if he’d just confessed to the crime he didn’t commit.

But Woodard’s story didn’t end happily. Freedom brought its own challenges for him, and he died in prison in 2012. In those intervening four years, though, Woodard met and fell in love with a woman named Joyce King, whose name might also ring a bell. She has written for D Magazine and is probably best known for her book Hate Crime: The Story of a Dragging in Jasper, Texas.

Now Joyce has written about her four years with James Woodard. The book is called Exonerated: A Brief and Dangerous Freedom. Here’s a blurb from Morris Dees, founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center:

“A gripping yet tragic story of how imprisoning an innocent man for 27 years destroys him and traumatizes the woman who loves him. This very personal account of a wrongful incarceration, and its victim, will deeply touch not only those who fight for justice but also folks who sit on the sideline.”