Garrison was in prison due to a murder conviction, for which he was sentenced automatically to life in prison when he was 16. It was a robbery gone wrong, Becky Hahn, one of Garrison’s attorneys, told the Detroit Free Press. Since the incident, Garrison has taught himself to read and write and studied law to help other juveniles, according to the newspaper. “He was a zealous advocate for himself and for other incarcerated persons,” Hahn said. “He often helped other individuals with their legal matters.”
After a U.S. Supreme Court ruling retroactively negated mandatory life sentences for juveniles convicted of murder, Garrison was resentenced in January and later eligible for release on parole, having already met the parole requirement of serving at least 40 years. Garrison didn’t want to deal with the strict requirements of parole that often landed ex-offenders right back in prison, so he decided to wait until September to be released, according to the Detroit Free Press. That’s when the more than 7,000 days of good behavior credits would earn him release without the stipulations of parole, the newspaper reported. Edward “Baraka” Sanders, who met Garrison in prison, said he gets why his friend opted against parole. He called the experience "humiliating. I understand what it means to be on parole,” Sanders told the Detroit Free Press.
The COVID-19 pandemic, however, disrupted Garrison’s plan. He knew that due to having a lung removed as an infant because of his struggle with tuberculosis, he faced an increased risk of catching the virus, the Detroit Free Press reported. He couldn’t wait until September.
The Department of Corrections had similar concerns and offered Garrison parole three weeks ago, Gautz told CNN. "We came back to him and told him we would still like to parole him given his age and our concern with him getting the virus," Gautz said. But because of an untimely requirement giving prosecutors 28 days to contest the decision, Garrison died before prosecutors even responded to a Department of Corrections' request for a waiver on April 8, Gautz said. "We did everything we could to get him out," Gautz told CNN.
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Hahn told the Detroit Free Press her client’s death is a tragedy. “I really do think that if he was here, he would want his death to shed light on the dire situation that those others are facing in MDOC," Hahn said.
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