Coordinating Local Services for Individual Exonerees
The Need: Many exonerees do not use – indeed, are unaware of – the services and benefits they qualify for and which could help remove barriers to re-entry. Many exonerees and their families are not getting the health care they are eligible for, and have specific legal or bureaucratic problems that get in the way of rebuilding their lives.
How After Innocence is Meeting the Need:
Health care Eligibility Screening and Enrollment Assistance. We evaluate the health care options available to exonerees and their families, whether through government programs (Medicare or Medicaid), employer-based coverage, or the health insurance Marketplace created under Obamacare. Where needed, we provide step-by-step enrollment help, and keep following up until the exoneree has the coverage in place. We also help exonerees understand how to make good use of whatever health care they have, and remain available at any time to help resolve problems and answer questions. We have done that for more than 400 exonerees across 41 states.
Recruiting Pro Bono Legal Representation. If an exoneree has a legal or bureaucratic problem that poses a barrier to re-entry - such as record expungement, restoration of rights and public benefits, landlord-tenant issues, child custody and divorce, bankruptcy or tax problems - we ensure that they have access to great legal help, pro bono wherever possible. In nearly every case, that means recruiting a local attorney with the relevant legal expertise, convincing him or her to take the case for free, and following up to ensure the case stays on track.
Leveraging Untapped Local Resources. We ensure that the exoneree is getting the most out of existing social services and public benefits. Where appropriate, we contact service providers to advocate for the best treatment possible, and also recruit additional local support, including social workers and mentors, to work with the exoneree pro bono.