Modal close

Hi there,

This week, Democracy Now! is celebrating our 22nd birthday. Since our first show in February 1996, our daily news hour has brought you fearless journalism and hard-hitting news you can trust--all without ads or corporate underwriting. How is this possible? Only with your support. In fact, if everyone reading this gave just $4, it would cover our operating expenses for the whole year. Right now, a generous donor will TRIPLE every donation, meaning your gift today will go three times as far. Pretty amazing, right? Please do your part. Take a moment to give right now for our 22nd birthday.

Non-commercial news needs your support.

We rely on contributions from you, our viewers and listeners to do our work. If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, now is a great time to make your monthly contribution.

Please do your part today.

Donate

WATCH: Florida Grants Parole to Mark DeFriest After New Film Exposes His Shocking Ordeal Behind Bars

Web ExclusiveMarch 19, 2015
Listen
Media Options
Listen

“Yippee! I’m a parolee!,” mentally ill prisoner Mark DeFriest said to his wife Bonnie DeFriest, as he began his path to freedom on March 10. He still still faces years in prison, but welcomed a 70-year reduction in his sentence.

As Democracy Now! reported in November during our interview with filmmaker Gabriel London, DeFriest is known as the Houdini of Florida prisons because he has tried to escape 13 times — seven of them successfully. In 1979, his father died and left him a set of tools, but he picked them up before they were probated. He was arrested for stealing and sentenced to four years in prison. During his trial, five out of six court-appointed psychiatrists testified DeFriest was highly intelligent, but also mentally ill and incompetent to be sentenced. But one doctor insisted he was faking. This cleared the way for DeFriest to plead guilty to a life sentence. Out of his 34 years in prison, he spent 27 years in solitary confinement, much of it in the notorious “X wing” of Florida State Prison, where he went for years without seeing the sun.

London is the director of the new documentary “The Mind of Mark DeFriest,” which debuts tonight on Showtime at 8:15 p.m. ET/PT.

He explained to Democracy Now! that DeFriest is now serving a 1-year parole-ineligible Florida sentence, and must still complete two out-of-state sentences totaling up to five years. Only if these sentences are commuted will he gain the right to, in his own words, “live with some semblance of a normal life.”

London has shown the film to the Florida Parole Commissioners and is on a “Countdown to Freedom Tour” that features the documentary and discussions with experts on prison policy toward the mentally ill.

See more about The Life of Mark DeFriest.

Related Story

Video squareStoryNov 20, 2014The Life and Mind of Mark DeFriest: New Film Captures Florida Prisoner’s Shocking Ordeal Behind Bars
The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

Non-commercial news needs your support

We rely on contributions from our viewers and listeners to do our work.
Please do your part today.
Make a donation
Up arrowTop