In Remembrance of a Legend

Ms. Brown during her November 2012 Chicago visit to The Women's Project of the Center on Wrongful Convictions. Photo credit: Randy Belice

Ms. Brown during her November 2012 Chicago visit to The Women’s Project of the Center on Wrongful Convictions.
Photo credit: Randy Belice

By Alexis Pavlatos

This week, we remember an advocate for the wrongly convicted, Joyce Ann Brown, a well-known political figure in Dallas, Texas, passed away on June 13 after suffering from a heart attack.

Joyce Ann Brown received international attention and became the poster child for wrongful convictions when she spent nine years, five months, and 24 days for aggravated robbery before her conviction was overturned in 1989.  In the all-too-common scenario of a lying jailhouse informant and witness misidentification, in 1980, Joyce Ann Brown was sentenced to life in prison for the robbing and murder of a fur store owner.

Upon her release, Ms. Brown vowed to not become bitter, and instead placed her energy into bettering her community.  She became an active member in the political realm, lobbying for exoneree compensation in her home state of Texas and founding her own non-profit, Mothers (Fathers) for the Advancement of Social Systems Inc. (commonly called “MASS”) to better help individuals released from prison to assimilate to life outside their cells as law-abiding citizens.

Ms. Brown was 68 years old.

“I made a promise in 1986 to my God that not if, but when I was released from that bondage that I would spend the rest of my life, fighting for those who are less fortunate.”

– Joyce Ann Brown

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