“Over the years, I have written my obituary numerous times,” says Naomi Blount. “I never thought I would ever be coming home.” That’s because in 1982, she was sentenced to life in Pennsylvania state prison. She was 32 years old.
A drug addict and alcoholic, Naomi struggled every day of her adult life. One terrible day, a man stabbed her friend, Brenda Baker. The two women then found the man and wanted to hurt him, but it was Brenda who delivered the fatal injury, not Naomi. In Pennsylvania, you don’t have to be the one who committed homicide to get charged with the crime; you just have to have been there in a certain capacity.
Behind bars with no release in sight, Naomi’s tough situation was matched by grit and determination to improve herself. Her son, 10 years old when she went inside, meant everything to Naomi, and for his sake, she vowed that even though she was supposed to die in prison, she would be leaving the world a better person than when she’d entered it. She earned several degrees, stayed clean, and helped others.
“I wanted my son to, at least when he picked up my body, I wanted him to know that his mother was more than an alcoholic and a drug addict.”
Naomi applied for and was denied commutation five times. About to give up, she hand-wrote a heartfelt plea to the Board of Pardons, begging them to reconsider. Then, in the equivalent of winning a lottery ticket, she was granted clemency – almost unheard of in Pennsylvania. She’d been in prison 37 years.
Remarkably, now 72, Naomi is not bitter. In the three years since she’s been released, it seems as though there’s nothing she hasn’t been able to accomplish. She is a vocal advocate for reform, and she also works as a commutation specialist for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. “My job allows me to encourage those that are on the inside,” she says.
She’s very close to her son, now 50, and his family. “I’m getting ready to be a great-grandmother for the second time,” Naomi says. “This will be the first baby that I am home for.” And the passion for music that she has had her whole life has flourished. Recently, she released an album, called “Mello-D” by Simply Naomi.
She also works as a program consultant for a group that helped her when she was inside, Shining Light. They provide support to people in prison.
Naomi is herself a “shining light,” trying every day to express what she feels deeply: gratitude. “I’m always saying, ‘Lord, thank you. Thank you, God. Thank you, God.’”
Listen to Naomi talk about her experience here:
Naomi’s rich life is guided by her desire to help the world, not hurt it. Help FAMM show how she and so many others are using their second chances for the good.