MIRAMAR (CBS4) — Barney Brown, a South Florida man who served 38-years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, returned to the high school Thursday he should have graduated from in 1972.

If Brown had never been incarcerated, he would have been a member of the first graduating class of Miramar High School. And that’s where he returned Thursday to share his story with students.

“The state of Florida has never apologized for taking my life away, but this is better than an apology,” Brown told CBS4’s Joan Murray.

Brown’s horrific ordeal started in 1969. The 14-year old from Carver Ranches was accused of raping a woman and robbing her husband. He always claimed his innocence but still went on trial in juvenile court. Because the victim’s story was inconsistent, contradictory and she couldn’t positively identify him as the suspect, Brown was acquitted.

The district attorney was undeterred. The prosecutor filed a case against Brown in adult criminal court on the same charges and Barney was eventually convicted.

It wasn’t until 38-years later that Florida’s 11th Judicial Circuit Court overturned his conviction due to the laws of double jeopardy which makes it unconstitutional to be tried on the same charges you’ve already been acquitted of.

Brown’s mother, Claudette Williams, still remembers her feelings while Barney was in jail.

“I didn’t think it would happen, that one day he’ll be out,” Claudette said.

After serving 38 long years, Brown was finally exonerated and proved his innocence. He was released from prison on September 24, 2008.

Upon his release, Brown only wanted to help others to avoid the same nightmare he lived through.

“The message is hope, educate yourself, it’s empowerment,” Brown said.

While in prison, Brown earned his high school diploma and a college degree. He is currently a paralegal in Miami-Dade County and works with youth programs in the county.

Brown’s passion and focus is to prevent any child from going through what he experienced.

His mother and some of his 1972 classmates were in the audience at Miramar High School Thursday, and the current crop of students were moved by Brown’s story.

“Everything he said today touched me,” said Miramar senior Chelsea Powell, “that’s a life gone.”

And while Brown can never get back the time he lost in jail; the fact that he is keeping kids on the right path and helping them avoid the pain he endured is what gives him hope for the future.

Comments (17)
  1. Arlene Francis says:

    INSPIRING!!!!!!!!!!!!! How can this gentleman be contacted??? I would like to meet with him.

    1. kd says:

      I wonder if he got a settlement from the state since he didn’t get an apology.

  2. jorge says:

    i wonder if this distrsict attorney is still alive .. too bad he’s too old now . it would justice to get him disbarred..

    1. linda says:

      Do you know the name of the DA?

  3. Gayelle Felix says:

    yes it is an awesome story, so moving, inspiring, he is an inspiration for us all!! He is a great friend, brother, uncle. And I am so proud of him.

    Barney Brown you will go far, with all the blessings you so deserve.
    God Bless

  4. Helena says:

    God bless BARNEY BROWN and give him the powder to guide any person to the right way to live. You deserve love, health and life for the rest of your life. GOD bless you.

  5. A Proud Miramar High School Alumni says:

    You can e-mail him at barneybrown38@gmail.com. He will respond. He is such a humble person. To endure what he did and not harbor any hate is truly amazing.

  6. MOSES FLORES says:


  7. Michael Ejercito says:

    Somebody needs to find that prosecutor who retried him and give him what he deserves.

  8. kajen says:

    GOD BLESS YOU MR. BARNEY BROWN! After all, hope you wake up with a smile on your face, a heart full of love and a morning full of inspiration, with a prayer that GOD will bless you always.

    1. Michael Ejercito says:

      And barney should remember that it was HUMAN BEINGS who committed that grave injustice. He would do well to remember that the next time he is tempted to feel compassion for human beings.

  9. Kyle Elliot says:

    It’s so honorable of him to not display any ill will towards the just-us system. Mr. Brown is another example of many examples of how African Americans, long after slavery are still being oppressed by a white supremacist society. The despicable deeds and the sheer hypocrisy against African Americans is abominable. For this country to self proclaim itself as the leader in human rights is bogus and absurd…

    1. Michael Ejercito says:

      To be accurate, we are the leader in human rights.

      Everyone else is worse.

  10. John says:

    Not to mention all the times we immediately convict people in our hearts the moment the news media reports an arrest on the nightly broadcasts. We’re so quick to judge people and hang them before they’ve even had a “fair” trial. We’re truly hypocrites in this western world, and I hope we all pay for our gluttonous greedy feelings some day. God will rebuke us all with fire soon, hopefully, as per the word of Isaiah.

  11. Odile says:

    Nothing will make up for for all these years in jail… but the State of Florida should be decent enough to publicly apologise and give a subsantial compensation. Stories like this are awful… i don’t even begin to comprehend how any member of justice can be so careless as to condamn based upon such inane proves…. What a shame !
    And thumbs up to Mr Barney Brown !

  12. Martha says:

    Sr Barney Brrown you should sue the state of Florida for stealing his life. Errors of justice also must be paid. God bless you !!!.

  13. Mrs. Erica J. says:

    As being the oldest niece of Mr. Barney Brown, I have seen a lot of the hurt and damage personally it had on my family. With the help of the Lord Jesus Christ that was on our side, the truth prevailed. We must never forget as a family, how the true Meaning of Love, was revealed in those tough times, and we must never forget what got us through then, and what will prevail again, and again and forever more. The truth may make us free, but Faith was what we had, more than silver and gold, and we will continue to have that same faith through every situation that may arise. Jesus did it! 🙂