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Born and raised in Miami, William spent his early youth climbing trees and exploring limestone caves, swimming in lakes and canals, and catching turtles in the cabbage palm and palmetto bush woods that made up post-war, pre-boom, semi-tropical South Florida. Possessed with an incorrigible, rebellious spirit, at age 11 he was locked up in Youth Hall. At 12 he was confined in Kendall Children’s Home and at age 14 he was shipped off to the notorious Okeechobee Boys’ School. In January 1972, at age 17, William was sentenced to life imprisonment for a Miami robbery, even though no one was hurt in the crime. He spent the next 15 years touring and escaping from Florida’s ever-expanding prison system, becoming a certified legal aide and renowned jailhouse lawyer in the process.
In 1988, William was sentenced to death for his part in the 1987 botched attempt to free a friend from a prison transport van in downtown West Palm Beach, during which a guard was shot and killed by William’s accomplice, Frank Valdes. In 1999 a raft of Florida State Prison guards murdered Frank in his prison cell. In the subsequent investigative furor, the governor ordered William transferred to Virginia’s death row, where he penned and published his first novel, The Third Pillar of Wisdom, and an award-winning autobiography, A Checkered Past, which won first place in Writer's Digest 2004 International Self-Published Book Awards. William has also published and won awards for his short stories, including the PEN American Center’s “Fielding Dawson Special Citation for Outstanding Achievement” in 2004 for his body of literary work.
In 2008, William was transferred back to Florida State Prison where he currently resides. His mailing address is:
William Van Poyck 034071
Florida State Prison
7819 NW 228th St
Raiford FL 32026-1160