Documenting Exonerees’ Experiences After Release
The Need: Stories and statistics that convey the nature and scope of exonerees’ post-release problems are vital to changing the public discussion about the long-term consequences of wrongful conviction, building support for smart policy reform, and understanding how best to assist exonerees.
What’s missing? Exonerees' post-release stories (in their own voices) and reliable re-entry data, collected over time, to document the long-term consequences of wrongful conviction. If you've seen the documentary After Innocence (by filmmakers Jessica Sanders and Marc Simon; not affiliated with this project), then you know the powerful impact even a handful of post-release stories can have.
How After Innocence Will Address the Need: To increase exoneree voices, we are developing a program to identify and train exonerees in effectively communicating their stories, and also speaking to particular policy issues (relating to wrongful conviction, and more general criminal justice reform), and then assist them with finding opportunities to speak. With input from social welfare scholars, we are developing research tools to help measure and document exonerees’ experiences. With permission, we'll share exonerees' stories and data in order to catalyze discussion about our shared belief that a wrongly convicted individual should be compensated. We will also use this data internally to evaluate exonerees’ progress, design and refine service models to assist them, and develop better measures by which our work can be evaluated.