Raymond Daniel Towler spent nearly 29 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Writing in Esquire, Mike Sager shares Ray’s story of hardship, hope, and vindication. It is a heartrending portrait of what happens when we get it wrong and an innocent man goes to prison.
He carries himself upright. He doesn’t complain and moan. He doesn’t gossip. He does his own time. He maintains his maintain. Never for one minute does he ever let himself think he is destined to spend the rest of his life behind bars — he knows he might, but he never thinks he will … so he doesn’t live like that, like an animal in a cage. He tries to live like he’s at home. He tries to respect himself and others. He acts in a way that makes others respect him. His Zenlike demeanor, a calm he’s possessed since childhood — when he used to sit for hours and draw on the data-entry cards his moms brought home for that purpose — fits well to his circumstances.
Ray Towler should never have gone to prison. We can only hope the millions of dollars the state of Ohio will have to pay him can serve as a token of the apology society owes him. Because no amount of money can make up for 29 years in prison.