And what would you do?
There you are in court, being sentenced to serve 20 years to life for brutally suffocating a 92-year-old woman.
Except you didn’t do it.
Imagine the agony, the anger and the sheer panic that would rush through your body as you realized that you may spend the rest of your life imprisoned.
Okay, now imagine that during a retrial seven years into your sentence, the district attorney discovers that you might not be guilty after all. So he offers you a choice: your freedom—but you have to admit to being guilty and show a little remorse or you can rot inside your cell. If you don’t confess, in other words, and appear properly contrite, you’ll continue serving a sentence that’ll probably end only with your death.
Again, what would you do?
Faced with the daily horrors of a maximum-security prison, and feeling furious and resentful (or afraid and despondent), most would jump at any chance to get out, NOW. Most would do whatever they could to regain freedom and return to their families. Most of us would lie, admit our guilt and worry about rebuilding our lives and our integrity later if we could only be saved from the pain and injustice now.
Minus the anger, resentment, fear and hopelessness, this is the story of Dewey Bozella, who refused to compromise his Integrity by lying and who never gave up hope that he would clear his name and walk out of prison a free man.
Though innocent, Bozella was convicted a second time of that horrific murder. And, sadly, he was no stranger to the justice system even before these trials: Both his mother and his brother had been murdered while he was growing up. Yet during his decades of false imprisonment in Sing Sing Correctional Facility, he worked to become a new and better man.
That is what The Uncompromised do. They abandon their status as a victim to be pitied and instead nurture Enthusiasm, summon Courage, choose Endurance and live with Integrity.
In prison, Bozella didn’t focus his energy on hating the system or any individual. He didn’t resign himself to his situation. What he did do was inspire those around him with his positivity about reclaiming his freedom and good name.
He channeled that energy to learn, “morals, obligations and responsibility. And the main thing…discipline.” Though he did this through boxing, he relied on these personal standards throughout his life to become the light-heavyweight champion in Sing Sing, to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree and to exert a consistent, disciplined effort to clear his name.
After 26 years in prison, after years of parole denials, after countless unsuccessful efforts by his advocates and attorneys to set him free, another trial date was set. New attorneys agreed to take Bozella’s case, and they contacted the lead investigator on the case. That investigator had long since retired, but he had saved just one case file—Bozella’s—because he couldn’t shake the feeling that Bozella was innocent. In that file was proof that the state had withheld the evidence that someone else had actually confessed to the crime, and that the two people who’d accused Bozella were lying.
In October 2009, after these astonishing truths came to light in his last trial, Bozella went home with his wife Trena and with his Integrity intact. What kind of man not only refuses to compromise his Integrity but stakes his life on it? What kind of man exemplifies Enthusiasm, Courage and Endurance for decades in an otherwise hopeless situation? For almost 30 years The Uncompromised Dewey Bozella answered that question through his inspiring actions.