OUR IMPACT: Real Results for Exonerees
We have advised 583 exonerees in 48 states about their health care options. But we didn't stop there.
More than one-third of them were not getting the health care they were eligible for, so we provided the free, one-on-one, step-by-step help that took them from no coverage to enrollment (in Medicaid or Medicare or a policy from the Marketplace, in many cases with a substantial subsidy), or substantially improved their coverage, or worked to ensure they saw a doctor for the first time in years.
Nearly half of them were unaware of the basic benefits they have and how to make use of them. So we went over that information, helped them schedule appointments, and actually make use of whatever care they have access to.
All 583 exonerees know they can call After Innocence for help if they have questions about using health care or public benefits.
118 of those exonerees asked for help resolving legal or bureaucratic problems, including they were having. We helped them resolve those problems, in many cases by recruiting a lawyer in the exoneree's community, and in nearly every case convinced the lawyer to do the work for free. We follow up to make sure the work gets done.
We also offer to help them make the most of the social services available to them in their communities, by making them aware of what is available, doing what we can to help them past impediments to getting the help, and by making warm hand-offs to local agencies.
We take on special projects for the exoneree population. Here are a a couple of recent examples:
Wrongful Conviction Tax Relief Act: Congress provided exonerees with a one-time opportunity for a refund of any taxes they had previously paid on money received as compensation for their wrongful incarceration, but exonerees were not notified, nor provided with any help applying before the deadline. So we stepped up, screened more than 600 exonerees for eligibility, recruited accountants and lawyers to help them file for free. The result: more than $1.75 million in refunds (or cancelled tax debt) for exonerees, nearly all of which would have gone unclaimed but for our work. More on that work from Vice News, The Takeaway, The Marshall Project and Huff Post.
Dental Services for Exonerees: In our work with hundreds of exonerees, we found that a huge number of them had serious dental problems or had not seen a dentist in many years. So we began an initiative (in progress) to get every one of them to see a dentist this year, and simultaneously planned a pro bono service day with a large dental network, which resulted in 25 exonerees across 8 states getting more than $60,000 in donated work. We are working triple that impact this year.
What We’ve Demonstrated:
A Highly Leveraged, Highly Efficient Way to Help the Exoneree Population: Our model of remote case management and resource development leverages the work of untapped service providers – and recruits new ones – in the exoneree’s community. That allows After Innocence to reach and get results for an unprecedented number of exonerees across the country, anywhere they live, with extremely low program costs and almost no overhead.
A Better Response to the Real Consequences of Wrongful Conviction: Through this work, After Innocence is working toward a day in the not-too-distant future when every exoneree in America has a reliable, consistent help with managing health care and public benefits, resolving legal problems, and other assistance with rebuilding a life after wrongful conviction.
A Sharable Model for Remote Service Coordination: Our innovative remote case management model can be adapted to deliver social and legal services to other underserved populations, in particular those spread thinly across great distances, where it would be inefficient and impractical to create separate organizations, programs and bureaucracies to serve them.