Sixty-four year old Brent Edmonds was freed from Graham Correctional Facility on June 25, 2021 after spending twenty-one years in prison.
Brent, known as “Big Wayne” by those who love him, comes from a large and supportive family. Surrounded by cousins, Brent loved spending time with his family. Always the funny one, Brent made his friends and family laugh so much that they cried. Although a jokester, Brent took his role in the family seriously. He’s always been extremely protective of the people he loved. He not only taught his younger cousins how to drive cars and navigate the world, but he lended a listening ear, providing relationship advice and emotional support. He amplified their accomplishments; every job or graduation was cause for celebration. As one younger cousin described Brent, “honestly, he loved to see us succeed in life.”
Of all the adults in his life, Brent always looked up to and admired his Uncle Garland. Little Brent would follow his uncle around from job to job; as a teenager, he followed in Garland’s footsteps and served in the U.S. Army for six years. As a crewman for 5 years he received multiple awards: a Sharpshooter Badge with Rifle Bar, Expert Badge with Hand Grenade Bar, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, and Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon-2. When he got out of the service, Edmonds had a series of jobs, but always struggled with trauma related to his service. Unfortunately, when he was 39 years old, Mr. Edmonds committed a murder. It was his first and only felony offense. Mr. Edmonds accepted responsibility and fully confessed to the police. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 50 years in prison, an effective death sentence.
Throughout the next 23 years in prison, Mr. Edmonds was determined to take every step he could to rebuild his emotional, personal, and professional life. He maintained consistent employment, working with the inside grounds crew, as an officer’s cook, and as a laundry porter. He continued to work despite his increasing age, determined to find purpose despite his decades-long sentence. Aside from his dedicated work experience, Edmonds has spent his time incarcerated doing meaningful introspection and rehabilitation. He joined Graham Veterans in 2010, where he earned certificates for 5-years of membership and for being a member in good standing. Furthermore, he completed a Trauma and PTSD Veterans Support Group in 2015, where he learned to cope with his emotions, becoming more comfortable to seek support when necessary.
In addition to his Veterans’ programming, Mr. Edmonds has found great comfort in religion. He attended weekly church services where he formed bonds with his higher power and the men who joined him in prayer. His emotional management skills coupled with his religious faith have transformed him throughout his years being incarcerated and will continue to support him as an independent man and throughout re-entry. Along with his exemplary behavior to better himself while incarcerated, Mr. Edmonds has never received a ticket for violence, use of force, or threats.
Despite his determination to lead the best possible life he could behind bars, Mr. Edmonds’ age and deteriorating health continued to pose a struggle. Now in his early sixties, Mr. Edmonds suffers from sciatic, a heart arrhythmia, and a series of other physical conditions that limit his mobility and put him at grave risk of serious illness or death.
Concerned about his ailing health, Illinois Prison Project filed an Electronic Detention request on Mr. Edmonds’ behalf on June 1, seeking his early release. We are overjoyed to announce that on June 25, Mr. Edmonds was picked up by his Uncle Garland and reunited with his adoring family! In addition to their unwavering support, Mr. Edmonds is eligible for many services through the Department of Veteran Affairs, which will support him throughout his re-entry process.
Welcome home, Mr. Edmonds!