A Black man who was sentenced to life in prison for joyriding has been freed after spending 23 years behind bars.
Kenneth Oliver spent eight of those 23 years in solitary confinement for being in possession of a banned book.
Oliver was first given a life sentence under California's "three strikes" sentencing law for repeat felony offenders. Joyriding was his third infraction.
He was released on Monday followed after Los Angeles County prosecutors dropped their objections, citing their "interest of justice," and after the state corrections department expunged his gang-affiliation record. He was also paid a $125,000 settlement for the time he spent in solitary confinement.
"It's almost impossible to believe that what happened to Ken happened here in California. You know, people think of this as an enlightened state and both the sentence and the time in [solitary confinement] don't square with that," Ward Johnson, lead counsel for Oliver with Mayer Brown law firm, said.
"I really haven't wrapped my head around it fully," Oliver said 24 hours after his release according to the LA Times. "I do feel like time has passed me by but I'm trying not to be negative about it."
Oliver claims that he spent the majority of his time in solitary, reading law books and filing the federal lawsuit which eventually saw him freed.
"You're single-celled for most of the time and every time you leave the cell or are escorted out you have to strip naked and bend over and cough," Oliver said.