‘I’ve made an impact on others’: Virginia man released from prison after asking governor to amend conditional pardon
HALIFAX, Va. (WWBT) - A Halifax man is thankful to be reunited with his family after spending 22 years in prison.
Robert Henry Green, who changed his name to Wize Shahid, served almost 22 years in prison following a 2002 conviction of eight felonies. A day after NBC12 aired Wize’s message to the governor, asking Northam to amend his conditional pardon, Wize was released from prison.
“I have accomplished so much within my transformation of change, I have made an impact on others’ lives,” said Wize, “Counselors wrote letters on my behalf to note my change and my qualifications of release.”
At 23 years old in 2000, Wize was arrested following a traffic stop. He says he was a passenger in a car that was pulled over. Wize ran from the officers and an officer chased after him.
“In the process of throwing me to the ground, [the officer] scraped his knee - that is how the malicious wounding charge came about,” he said.
Wize was sentenced to 39 years for possession with intent to distribute, distribution of narcotics, possession of a firearm after a convicted felony, malicious wounding, felony escape and credit card theft.
While in prison, he has completed dozens of programs including re-entry programs, and says he has used his time to become a better person and help other inmates as well.
“With all of this that I have been doing in here to show I am an asset within the DOC, I see that my presence in society right now is most needed,” explained Wize. “Further holding me in here does not serve society. Society does not gain anything by me being in here another day, let alone another year.”
Wize created his own program teaching weekly life and business classes as well as an “investing in community action” class. He has been pursuing a pardon for years, first, under Governor Terry McAuliffe.
“This year in August, I get called into the counselor’s office and it is the pardons department. They say your pardon has been granted. They started reading off the conditions and I thought I was being released right now,” he said. “When they got to ‘your sentence has been reduced from 39 years to 32 years I was like wow, how does that work?”
On August 30th, 2021, Governor Northam granted Wize a conditional pardon reducing his sentence by 7 years, stating he has spent half of his life in prison, has demonstrated exemplary rehabilitation efforts, channeled his growth into mentoring, and taken full responsibility for his offenses.
There has been an ongoing effort to have Wize Shahid released from prison, including an online petition.
“Other people are in situations not even similar but worse, and they are home, also I would like to say thank you for all the work the brother and sisters have been doing for him, I feel like I am helpless,” said Wize’s brother Dwight Green.
The Exodus Foundation, founded by Richmond native Rev. Dr. Madeline McClenney, has continued to hold vigils and lead the ‘Save Robert Henry Green Coalition. Dr. McClenney says Wize is not a danger to society.
‘Right now the governor has an opportunity to right a wrong, he has that power, that statutory power,” she explained. “the prison is not the solution - I think the governor knows that. We are asking, the governor to amend his conditional pardon to make it for immediate release.
Dr. McClenney says it will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep Wize in prison for the remaining years of his conditional pardon.
“The pardons department told me the officer involved was okay with me being released -he just didn’t want contact with me - he understood I wasn’t trying to do harm to him and I was trying to get away from him,” Wize explained. “One thing about mercy and justice, it is something that comes from understanding - so I would need for [the governor] to have understanding, to show equity in this process of granting clemency.”
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