"We Made It." Associated Press Covers Story of Released Juvenile Lifer Bobby Hines

At 9:00 a.m. on a September morning, Bobby Hines walked out of prison into his sister’s arms after spending 28 years behind bars for a crime he committed when he was 15 years old. Hines quietly told his sister, “We made it.” In 1989, Hines was convicted of first-degree murder for the death of James Warren, and although he was not the gunman, Hines was sentenced to life without parole in prison. After recent United States Supreme Court decisions ruled that juvenile life without parole sentences are restricted to the rare juvenile offender whose crime reflects irreparable corruption, Hines became eligible for resentencing to a term of years.

Represented by SADO attorney Valerie Newman, Hines was resentenced to a term of years that allowed his release this September. At the resentencing hearing, the victim’s sister, Valencia Warren-Gibbs, told the court, “We forgive him,” and urged the court to release Hines. Twenty days after his release, Hines and Warren-Gibbs embraced each other and met for several hours at SADO’s Detroit office. During that meeting, Hines expressed his remorse to Warren-Gibbs, and Warren-Gibbs told Hines, “Welcome home.” Since that meeting, Warren-Gibbs reports that she and Hines talk or text almost every day and that she plans to have him over for a family dinner. Hines sent Warren-Gibbs a picture of his first paycheck. Warren-Gibbs said, “It really feels like brother and sister.”

His reconciliation with Warren-Gibbs is one of many positive signs for Bobby Hines reentry into a world he has not known since 1989. Like most released juvenile lifers, Hines left prison with no money, no job, and no experience living on the outside as an adult. But, so far, Hines says, “I didn’t have one day with a problem adjusting.” Hines was assisted in preparing for reentry into society by SADO’s Project Reentry, whose team members prepared a comprehensive post-release plan for Hines to assist with his transition home. Hines was advised by his attorney, Valerie Newman, to take it slowly. “Everything has to done in small increments,” Newman said, “There’s a huge learning curve.” But, given the support of his sister and his willingness to learn new things, Newman expects Hines to do well. He has already found a job, and he is mastering his smart phone. To Bobby Hines, we echo the words of Valencia Warren-Gibbs, the victim’s sister: “We only want the best for you.”

The AP covered Bobby Hines’s story of redemption and reconciliation as part of its “Locked Up for Life” series. You can read the full AP story, view a video about Mr. Hines, and find stories of other juvenile lifers here.