Do prisons ever reform anyone? The fact is these horrible and dangerous medieval places often make convicts worse than when they arrived. Yet occasionally someone rises above that wretched environment. They redeem and uplift themselves educationally, spiritually and emotionally. They evolve from the dark Middle Ages of their past into a full-flowering Renaissance that is their future. And this happened to William Hawley soon to be released after serving more than 15 years for a non-violent offense.
Hawley is due to be released from prison on February 24, 2021, after serving all that time for walking off a minimum custody work detail, a mistake he deeply regrets. The reformed jewel thief and devout Christian will not only be trying to rebuild his life, but will be an advocate for prison reform while assisting other non-violent offenders earn an honest living.
Bill, as we call him, has already done much good, risking his own safety and well-being to save several lives while incarcerated. Most notably, he was instrumental in helping secure the release of two innocent individuals. In one case, Bill testified at a federal evidentiary hearing in Miami against corrupt, racist detectives who had beaten a false murder confession out of Tim Brown, a mentally-challenged Black 16-year-old, resulting in a life sentence. Partly as a result of Bill’s testimony, Tim was freed. In another case in Palm Beach County, Bill testified for the defense, exposing a nefarious plot in the murder trial of Roy Thompson, who was being framed and had been browbeaten by investigators into making a false confession. Represented by crackerjack defense attorney Ron Chapman, Roy was acquitted and released.
While behind bars, Bill strove to improve himself. He loves to write. He became a published author and wrote a book, plus he writes countless letters to friends and supporters. Also, he excelled in courses from Washington and Lee University, where he befriended many of his fellow students and professors. He’s now planning to pursue a journalism degree and learn the art of public relations as he has come to admire those who promote truth and justice.
Despite his criminal past, Bill has always defended the weak and innocent against bullies. It’s a theme that runs through his life as well as a memoir he penned about his experiences with Robert Durst, a multimillionaire and alleged serial killer now on COVID hiatus from his sensational trial for murdering his onetime friend Susan Berman. The book exposes Durst’s evil deeds, but is ultimately a call for justice for his many victims and their long-suffering families.
Bill wants to continue writing about his experiences, the characters he’s met along the way, and his Christian faith. He’d like to speak to students and criminal justice and advocacy groups with an eye toward positive and equitable prison and sentencing reforms.
Bill has in his corner public relations legend Tom Madden, who is a former vice president, assistant to the president of NBC and a top executive of ABC before founding TransMedia Group. Bill is represented, pro bono, by the stellar attorneys Peter Ticktin and Francis Mota of The Ticktin Law Group.
Now 55 years old, Bill has lost everything he ever had and has been suffering through a living hell in a prison dominated by gangs and violence. It’s sweltering hot in the summer and frigid in the winter, and now menaced by the spreading deadly threat of COVID-19.
Despite his ordeal, Bill has worked in prison law libraries, performs voluntary service on the Offender Representative Committee and serves as the Medical Department Liaison between the offenders and the administration. Through these activities, he has sought to improve conditions for all inmates. While previously serving as the liaison for both the Chaplains Office and the Mental Health Department, he helped prevent the suicides of two prisoners. He’s also aided others in obtaining denied medical care, including for cancer.
Bill is not seeking a hand-out, but rather a hand-up in resuming his life and rebuilding his future. He will leave prison destitute, lacking the most basic things that many others take for granted: a car, computer, phone and even clothing.
Still, Bill is willing to give back. Donations of $50 will receive a free copy of Bill’s book about his experiences with Robert Durst, which garners mostly five-star reviews on Amazon. Givers of $100 will receive not only a signed copy of Bill’s book, but a personal thank you and to all who give, no matter the amount, to help Bill get back on his feet will receive personal updates from Bill about his progress and everlasting gratitude. He wants those who support him to be his friends, to whom he’ll always be grateful.
Thanks for your consideration in donating to this worthy campaign, which will help transform a once-misguided, but good-hearted man’s life for the better, who in return will help others to live productive, honest and morally decent lives.