| Then: On January 6, 1983, around 2:15pm, someone committed an armed robbery at a supermarket in Roxbury, Massachusetts while another stood guard outside. Peter Vaughn didn’t know anything about it. At that time, he was with his girlfriend picking up their son from daycare. Six months later at age 21, he was arrested for the supermarket robbery and held on five thousand dollars bail. While awaiting trial, Peter was offered a deal to plead guilty and receive “Time Served.” He refused and took it to trial. He was innocent.
Despite his innocence, on December 28, 1984, Peter was convicted based on a witness who misidentified him as the “lookout” and was sentenced to 7½-12 years in prison. While incarcerated, he was even approached by another inmate who confessed to him that he had committed the robbery. In November 1986, an appellate judge reviewing the case ordered an acquittal and release. He was released the next day without any money or a stable home to go to, and without direction in life. In his first years out, Peter struggled with anger, drugs, alcohol and homelessness.
Now: Peter now lives in Brockton, Massachusetts in his own apartment, close to his mother, whom he visits daily. He is proud to have been clean and sober since November 1994 and continues to attend at least two Alcoholics Anonymous meetings each week. Twenty years after his release, he is no longer angry, which he relates to being clean. He says, “I pray on my knees every morning before I have my first cigarette and coffee.” He is grateful for being sober, having a roof over his head, having his mother, and for having developed his self-esteem. He enjoys the simple things in life—like his morning cup of coffee at the corner donut shop, taking walks and talking on the phone.
Hometown: Brockton, Massachusetts