The Fernandina Beach Rotary Club Welcomes Will Bryant
The Fernandina Beach Rotary Club recently welcomed Will Bryant, a former prison inmate, who shared his powerful and inspirational story with the club. Thirty one years ago, Bryant – then 16 years old – was convicted of murder when a man was killed during a robbery committed by Bryant and three friends. Bryant was sentenced to life in prison at Everglades Correctional Institution. While incarcerated, Bryant spent many hours in solitary confinement where he taught himself to read and write – something he could not do despite having reached the 10th grade before his arrest. The first book he read from cover to cover was Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham.” He said his life changed forever when he met Ken Jordan of Kairos Prison Ministries who became his friend, mentor and spiritual advisor. Encouraged by Jordan, Bryant earned his GED and used the prison library to study law and his case in particular. He learned that he had been convicted as an adult even though his accomplices had been charged as juveniles. Eventually, after filing numerous briefs on his own, Bryant was accepted into the Corrections Transition Program. He successfully completed the program and was granted parole. Bryant, who is now an iron worker, has his own apartment where he says he is able to sleep by himself for the first time in years. While others might blame his dysfunctional family life, poverty and lack of education for the years he spent in prison, Bryant said he blames himself. Life is about choices, he said. Bad choices lead to trouble and bad friends lead to bad choices. Bryant now shares his life story as a cautionary tale with young men, including locally at the Journey Church and Boys and Girls Club.