John was born in 1964, the eighth of twelve children. As a boy, John loved being active and playing sports. He would play football and basketball, go fishing in the Delaware River, and even help out his father, who worked as a janitor. He would also constantly be seen riding his bike around his neighborhood! As he grew older, he developed a love for fitness and began going to the gym, while also finding time to read and write poetry. He showed leadership qualities from a young age, even becoming a Boy Scout leader. To know John is to know someone kind, caring, and compassionate, someone who has displayed a huge amount of integrity and determination to do the best work that he can, despite his circumstances.



Spirituality is hugely important to John, and it is through meditation and yoga that he gets through his days in prison. John has become a certified yoga instructor with Transformation Yoga, who speak very highly of John and his expertise as an instructor. John holds a number of certificates and qualifications from his time in prison. John has worked in the prison kitchen and helped to maintain the horticultural nursery in the prison.

Currently, John works in the activities department daily, designs and conducts fitness, yoga and meditation programs for residents and people outside the prison. John has also been involved in the creation of a PA Department of Corrections Yoga Manual to be used statewide. John also designs fitness programs to help his fellow inmates, tailoring them to suit the needs of each person, even those who are elderly, sick, or disabled.



Karen Pollard-Brookins first met John at church when they were nine years old. Each other’s “first loves” as young adults, the two fell out of touch as the years went by. They reconnected five years ago after Karen wrote a letter about John for his appeal process. Since they reconnected, Karen has dedicated her life to tirelessly working to free Johnny, gathering a huge amount of documents and becoming the go-to person for details about the case. The two married in November 2018.



Upon his release, John plans to get an RV and drive across America to meet the people who have supported him over the years. He wants to stop along the way in towns and national parks and see as much of the country as he can. John wants to open a studio where he can teach health, wellness, and conditioning, and eventually run retreats to help people to work on themselves, as he says, from the physical to the spiritual.

John doesn’t want to live in Pennsylvania if exonerated, but travel all around the world and see all that he can. He doesn’t want to squander any more time, and wishes to soak up as many valuable experiences as he can, with his loving wife, Karen, by his side.