WBEZ | exoneree diaries http://www.wbez.org/tags/exoneree-diaries Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Exoneree Diaries: James gets a chance to testify to his innocence http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-james-gets-chance-testify-his-innocence-110597 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/james_0_0 - Copy_0_1.png" alt="" /><p><p><em>&ldquo;I was finally getting to tell my side of it. That I didn&rsquo;t have anything to do with it, that I was innocent.&rdquo;</em></p><p><strong>JAMES NERVOUSLY PARKED</strong> his son&rsquo;s Dodge Caravan on the street near the Cook County Courthouse. It was early July 2013. He had recently been let go from his job and was looking for another, but his mind that day was on his chance to testify for the first time in decades.</p><p>&ldquo;This judge held my future in his hands,&rdquo; James said. &ldquo;He held the difference of me being able to say I was not convicted of a crime. That I was innocent of what you read about on the internet.&rdquo;</p><p>The state was fighting his attempt to officially clear his &rsquo;89 murder and arson conviction and become eligible for compensation, arguing James had contributed to his own wrongful conviction by reporting car fires, setting in motion his arrest. The assertion was &ldquo;flat out wrong&rdquo; and &ldquo;absurd,&rdquo; James&rsquo; attorney, Karl Leonard, wrote in response to the state.</p><p>The hearing was the culmination of a year&rsquo;s worth of back-and-forth court filings and evidence exhibits. Filling the seats around James and Karl were Tara Thompson and Gayle Horn from the Chicago law firm Loevy &amp; Loevy, who also represented James and had worked on his case before his release in 2012.</p><p>But another legal matter was brewing. Weeks before the court hearing, James&rsquo; attorneys at Loevy had filed a separate civil lawsuit on his behalf, suing the infamously disgraced former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge, as well as 13 other police officers and members from the Chicago Fire Department and the City of Chicago.</p><p>Burge was convicted in 2011 for lying about the police torture, in which he and others used plastic bags to suffocate suspects, shocking them with electrical devices, among other tactics.</p><p>In James&rsquo; case, police beat him until he urinated blood, records show, forcing a confession that was tossed out before trial, but not before it had set in motion the prosecution that cost him almost 25 years of his life, the Loevy group argued.</p><p>James&rsquo; civil lawsuit was one of several in recent years the City of Chicago had faced. It had already paid tens of millions of dollars to compensate torture victims.</p><p>With one potential pay-out in the works &ndash; which could take years to see &ndash; James&rsquo; lawyers focused on securing him, if he could prove &ldquo;actual innocence,&rdquo; what the state legally owed him &ndash; a little more than $200,000, the maximum that could be awarded to former prisoners who had spent more than 14 years behind bars.</p><p>James thought the judge seemed to be listening &ndash; really listening &ndash; to both sides.</p><p>&ldquo;Sometimes you catch judges not really paying attention,&rdquo; James said. &ldquo;He pays attention.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>THE HEARING WAS QUICK</strong>, but not yet over. The judge scheduled another one for a few weeks later.</p><p>James left the courthouse and returned to his son&rsquo;s van, stopping when he saw a piece of paper tucked under the windshield wiper. It was a ticket for expired license plates.</p><p>Having recently registered the vehicle, James headed to the back of the van to check what had happened to the temporary plate he had secured over the old one.</p><p>The photo evidence later arrived by mail. His temporary tags had been pulled away for the camera, exposing the expired license plate and making it appear as though James was driving outside of the law.</p><p>James decided he wasn&rsquo;t going to be pushed around while officials covered up the truth &ndash; even if it was just a $60 motor vehicle ticket. He was going to fight it and clear his name.</p></p> Mon, 04 Aug 2014 08:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-james-gets-chance-testify-his-innocence-110597 Exoneree Diaries: Antione helps as his son learns a hard lesson http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-antione-helps-his-son-learns-hard-lesson-110528 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/antione_0_0_1_1.png" alt="" /><p><p><em>&ldquo;It was a secret from me that he even got in trouble. If they had told me from the beginning, I would have told him don&rsquo;t talk to no police and make no statement. Cuz they&rsquo;ll use it against him.&rdquo;</em><br /><br /><strong>ANTIONE&rsquo;S SON NEEDED</strong> a lawyer.</p><p>Krishon, a senior football player at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, Okla., was weeks away from graduating in 2013, when he and four other teammates faced criminal charges.</p><p>They had faked robberies as an April Fool&rsquo;s Day prank on their friends.</p><p>Fingerprinted, Krishon was incredulous &ndash; how did he get here?</p><p>When Antione was shuttled off to prison two decades earlier, Krishon was a tot. When Antione was released, Krishon had just finished the eighth grade.</p><p>Over the years, Krishon had never really known why his father was in prison, let alone the circumstances of his wrongful conviction. And when Antione won his freedom, he didn&rsquo;t reveal much more to his son, except to warn him to be careful, to not get himself into any situations.</p><p>Almost ten years later, Krishon was in a situation.</p><p>&ldquo;I found out in the eleventh hour,&rdquo; Antione said after learning of Krishon&rsquo;s arrest and suspension from school. &ldquo;I want him to learn something from this. When I talk to him, I&rsquo;m the old man. But when you&rsquo;re in hot water, when your ass is on the line, then you call Superman.&rdquo;</p><p>In the early morning hours of April 2, after a series of innocuous pranks all day, Krishon and four friends, decided to scare their friends. They dressed in dark clothing and covered their faces with masks fashioned from a pillow case.<br /><br />They were black. The city of Durant, mostly white. The targets of their prank &ndash; first, other teammates. But later on, their white girlfriends.<br /><br />The young men banged on doors, busted in, yelled and pretended their cell phones were guns so convincingly that police reported one of the victims (a friend) saying he saw two 9 mm handguns, black in color.</p><p>There were no guns, and no one was physically harmed. But the girls were terrified.</p><p>&ldquo;Maybe other people could get away with pretending to be criminals, black people can&rsquo;t do it. It was a big deal down here,&rdquo; a local minister told Chicago Sun-Times writer Mary Mitchell, who covered the story after the NAACP sued Southeastern Oklahoma State University for its handling of the case.<br /><br />After a police investigation ensued, along with rumors about what had really happened, the five players turned themselves in.<br /><br />&ldquo;You tried to scare little white girls&rdquo; is what Krishon says an officer told them during their interview.</p><p>The officer also memorialized the statement in his report, albeit with a different tone: &ldquo;When speaking to one of the parties above I asked if he knew that he scared a lot of young ladies with the prank. He laughed and said it wouldn&#39;t have been funny if they wouldn&#39;t have been. He said it was just a prank taken too far.&rdquo;</p><p>Krishon had long tried to stay out of trouble, and above all, he never wanted to do time like his father.</p><p>&ldquo;I feel stupid for putting myself in a situation where I had to go to jail because I told myself I never would,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>After their suspension from the university, the students appealed. It seemed ill-fated from the start. Krishon overheard a board member say to a professor that &ldquo;he would have shot them if they had<br />knocked on his door.&rdquo;</p><p>Meanwhile, the district attorney for the 19th District of Oklahoma wanted to prosecute. Antione paid for a lawyer.<br /><br />Months later, the players were offered several plea deals. Krishon rejected all of them. But when his mom started talking about getting a new lawyer, he decided it was time to take the punishment and move on.<br /><br />The students ended up with about a month of jail time, part of a 90-day sentence, plus three years of probation and a couple thousand dollars in court fees.</p><p>Jail was about what Krishon had imagined. He felt angry, as he had imagined. He worked odd jobs, as he had imagined. The guards were on a power trip, as he had imagined.</p><p>&ldquo;It wasn&rsquo;t something I&rsquo;d ever do again,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Krishon left jail with about a semester of college to redo. He would have to finish his business marketing degree somewhere else.</p><p>Until then, he would earn a paycheck as a counselor at a fitness center and use his athletic expertise to help people get in shape.</p><p>And every month, as his court fees would come due, he would pay up and feel mad at himself all over again.</p></p> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 16:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-antione-helps-his-son-learns-hard-lesson-110528 Exoneree Diaries: James grapples with the finances of a new life http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-james-grapples-finances-new-life-110481 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/james_0_0 - Copy_0_0.png" alt="" /><p><p><em>&ldquo;I have no doubt that my life would be totally different. I would have a very successful business by now. I&rsquo;d be looking towards retirement with great anticipation. Now, it&rsquo;s extreme horror because I haven&rsquo;t been able to pay social security taxes for the last 25 years. I haven&rsquo;t been able to plan a retirement plan. I haven&rsquo;t been able to do all those things that you&rsquo;re supposed to do when you&rsquo;re young so that you can relax when you get to be my age.&rdquo;</em></p><p>&ldquo;<strong>YOU ARE REQUIRED</strong> to pay the terms of the child support order listed below.&rdquo;</p><p>Every month, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services sent James a bill. It said the same thing: Delinquency. May or may not include all of the interest that you may owe. Nine percent a year. And almost $18,000 of back child support payments due.</p><p>He had rekindled a relationship with two of his children since being released, living with his son&rsquo;s family and spending his free time with his granddaughters, Mel and Rylie.</p><p>&ldquo;She don&rsquo;t take no shit from nobody,&rdquo; James said of Rylie, who clocked a kid who had about 25 pounds on her at Thanksgiving dinner. The kid had pinched her, and she punched him with a closed fist.</p><p>&ldquo;I bet he won&rsquo;t do that again,&rdquo; James laughed.</p><p>His other child, a daughter named Sarah, who first wrote to him in prison as a teenager, lived in Virginia with her red-headed spitfire toddler Tori.</p><p>But James had a third child, another daughter, who didn&rsquo;t speak to him. He had been married to her mother in the 80s, before his conviction. It was a bumpy relationship that ended in divorce, though they got back together for a stint in 2000, while he was in prison fresh off another divorce.</p><p>For the nearly 25 years of his life sentence, he couldn&rsquo;t support a child because he wasn&rsquo;t earning a real wage, apart from the pittance the Illinois Department of Corrections gave him for various prison jobs. But for 25 years, the state of Illinois racked up his child support, and when he was released, he was expected to pay up.</p><p>He couldn&rsquo;t pay it, and he couldn&rsquo;t pay to fight it. So the bills came. And as he hoped for some compensation for his wrongful conviction, the state fought his petition in the courts.</p><p><strong>AFTER WORKING AS A TEMP</strong> at a steel tubing manufacturer, starting at $10 an hour, James was hired on full-time. His pay increased to $14.69 an hour.</p><p>Saving as much as he could, James was ready to deliver on his promise to his longtime prison pen pal-turned-girlfriend Rena&rsquo; to get his own place so that she could move up north. He had trouble with his credit &ndash; didn&rsquo;t really have any &ndash; so they put almost everything in her name.</p><p>James refused to live in Illinois, so he found a cozy two-bedroom rental near his son&rsquo;s home in Crown Point. &nbsp;It was quiet, and the neighbors were nice.</p><p>By the time James hopped on a plane to Albuquerque to move Rena&rsquo; up, he found out he was losing his job.</p><p>The manufacturer had a requirement that its factory workers had to be able to operate an overhead crane to lift heavy objects on a trolley along a rail.</p><p>&ldquo;I couldn&rsquo;t feel safe doing it,&rdquo; James said. &ldquo;I couldn&rsquo;t feel comfortable. Three buttons that control six functions. You are flying a load over people&rsquo;s heads.</p><p>And the hefty, U-shaped piece of machinery didn&rsquo;t seem to have any brakes.</p><p>&ldquo;The harder I tried, the worse I got at it.&rdquo;</p><p>When being let go, James was told he was a good worker and that he could use them as a reference. They would attest to his excellent attendance, punctuality and willingness to work overtime, even when his back and legs ached from the hard labor.</p><p>He left without a letter of recommendation.</p><p><strong>ON THE FOURTH OF JULY</strong>, James rented a 16-foot Budget truck and drove to Silver City, New Mexico. Three of Rena&rsquo;s staff members from the hotel helped her load up an entire life of belongings. It was going to be a tight fit for the new home waiting for them on the other side.</p><p>She had the usual household items -- couches and chairs -- and the unusual -- swords, knives, Asian axes, katanas (Japanese swords) and two guns for self-defense.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not just a collection,&rdquo; she explained. &ldquo;Many people when they have a bad day, they have something to relieve their stress. Some people like ice cream. Other people, like me, like swords. It&rsquo;s how I clear the cobwebs of the day.&rdquo;</p><p>Rena&rsquo; would &ldquo;turn them&rdquo; outside because most houses weren&rsquo;t large enough on the inside to move such weapons about, without risking the carpet and walls. One time she got her leg and developed a healthy respect for the weapon&rsquo;s power.</p><p>All packed up, they caravanned to Indiana. Rena&rsquo; drove her F-150 truck and started out in the lead as James drove the 16-footer. Only about 1,500 miles and they would be home.</p></p> Fri, 11 Jul 2014 08:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-james-grapples-finances-new-life-110481 Exoneree Diaries: 'Take it one block at a time' http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-take-it-one-block-time-110480 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/antione_0_0_1_0.png" alt="" /><p><p><em>&ldquo;This is my neighborhood. I grew up here. I know everybody. I know the kids, The people in the community, the stakeholders, kind of respect me because I&rsquo;m active. You don&rsquo;t have drug deals on the corner right here. You don&rsquo;t have none of that because even the guys in the street respect me. Because it just ain&rsquo;t going to happen. Sometimes you have to put your foot down. I ain&rsquo;t the damn police neither.&rdquo;</em></p><p>Antione walked past his childhood home. His stepdad still lived there.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re naming the block after my mom,&rdquo; he mentioned.</p><p>Brick bungalows lined the street. Signs with big red X&rsquo;s marked the homes that were empty, a warning to firefighters that the structure could collapse.</p><p>Antione couldn&rsquo;t take two steps in Chicago&rsquo;s Austin neighborhood without getting stopped by acquaintances. He spent most of his time there, fixing up old properties in the year since his wife and kids moved out of their four-bedroom home in Villa Park, about a half hour away.</p><p>&ldquo;How you doing? You alright?&rdquo; Antione called over to a neighbor.</p><p>At an intersection, Antione halted in his tracks and smiled as a man named Johnny stopped his car and jumped out to greet him, leaving his car in the middle of the road.</p><p>Johnny, a weathered short man, walked toward Antione. His blue pearlescent studded boots clicked on the pavement.</p><p>They exchanged pleasantries as another friend, whom Antione had gone to kindergarten with more than 40 years ago, drove past them. Now, the neighborhood&rsquo;s underpopulated schools were targets for closure. The Chicago Teachers Union had been rallying all week.</p><p>Johnny&rsquo;s face turned somber as he talked to Antione, mid-road.</p><p>&ldquo;When I decide to change, I mean it,&rdquo; Johnny told him, peering past his ball cap. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t wanna be like I used to. You know, man? It&rsquo;s scary.&rdquo;</p><p>Johnny had spent the last two months living in a community house.</p><p>&ldquo;I became a criminal in the house,&rdquo; he said, shaking his head. &ldquo;You ever become a criminal in a house where you at, where you trying to stay clean?&rdquo;</p><p>Antione, averse to substances, couldn&rsquo;t relate. He had a drug arrest on his record, prior to his wrongful conviction, but says the stuff was planted because he was mouthing off to police.</p><p>&ldquo;One of the reasons I&rsquo;m wanting to do that house is guys like yourself that are trying to change and better themselves,&rdquo; Antione said about the Life After Justice building. &ldquo;Find it difficult when you living with people that&rsquo;s not trying to change.&rdquo;</p><p>Johnny had been on disability since 1989, he said, and it wasn&rsquo;t enough for him to live on.</p><p>&ldquo;I mean disability is only nothing,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I need more than that! C&rsquo;mon, you can&rsquo;t make it! I want to get off disability and work!&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;And you can,&rdquo; Antione said. &nbsp;&ldquo;But can you work? What kind of work would you do?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s a good question,&rdquo; Johnny shook his head. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;So you need to think about that,&rdquo; Antoine told him.</p><p>A kid emerged from around Johnny&rsquo;s parked car and asked Antione for a light.</p><p>&ldquo;No.&rdquo;</p><p>The kid walked away.</p><p>&ldquo;He wants a light so he can light a joint. These kids is crazy,&rdquo; Antoine said, turning back to Johnny.</p><p>They talked about rising up and changing the neighborhood.</p><p>&ldquo;Take it one block at a time,&rdquo; Antoine said.</p><p>&ldquo;You and me, we walk together.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Alright, bra&rsquo;, take care of yourself, man!&rdquo;</p><p>Johnny got back in his car and drove off. Antione lapped the corner and walked to the prospective Life After Justice property, a temporary house that Antione hoped to live in when the organization found a permanent spot. &nbsp;He hired a few guys to help him out.</p><p>Inside the house, patches of hardwood peeped through construction scraps and a tarp covering the kitchen and common area.</p><p>&ldquo;We have beautiful wood floors,&rdquo; he explained.&rdquo; I just left this down so they don&rsquo;t scuff them all up.&rdquo;</p><p>He planned to sand and revarnish the floors and doors then paint the walls. Antione had a friend who worked for a paint company and brought him some free cans.</p><p>&ldquo;A bed there, a bed there, a bed there,&rdquo; Antione pointed to different angles of the same small bedroom.</p><p>The kitchen would be a popular spot, as many guys coming out of prison have learned how to cook for the masses. Antione would assign somebody to cook meals for the exonerees because he didn&rsquo;t believe in having everybody cooking and using the kitchen at once. It&rsquo;s dangerous and unclean, he said.</p><p>Downstairs, music from a boom box blared, and a pot full of wet dog food sat on the ground &ndash; for Hannibal, Antione&rsquo;s dog who had one blue eye and liked to tear holes in the wall when he wasn&rsquo;t chained in the backyard.</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;ve had to repair the same spot twice,&rdquo; Antione said.</p><p>Bedrooms connected to bedrooms. One room would be his. It was dark and dusty. He envisioned a Jacuzzi tub all to himself.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m by myself now,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t need no three-bedroom house no more.&rdquo;</p><p>His young kids, when they visited, would stay in the connecting rooms, what used to be the house&rsquo;s boiler room. One side for the little girl, one side for the two boys. He needed to tear down a wall to open up the space and rip out the cedar cabinets, saving them for the kitchen.</p><p>Antione had hoped the temporary Life After Justice house would be ready before the 11<sup>th</sup> anniversary of his release from prison. But the crew had gone too slowly, he said, despite pushing his guys to finish on time.</p><p>&ldquo;I wanted to prove to Laura that I could do this in 30 days, 60 days,&rdquo; he sighed. &ldquo;It can happen.&rdquo;</p><p>Then, another setback. Someone had stolen all the wiring in the house. He knew who had done it and confronted the guy.</p><p>&ldquo;Told him I didn&rsquo;t have it,&rdquo; Antione said. &ldquo;He brought it back.&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 11 Jul 2014 07:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-take-it-one-block-time-110480 Exoneree Diaries: Jacques mentors in Cook County juvenile detention http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-jacques-mentors-cook-county-juvenile-detention-110452 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/jaques_0_0_0_0_3.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>&ldquo;Growing up in Humboldt Park, especially back in them days, back then as now, gang recruitment was so easy. The gangs would drive on kids like me. They knew my father had passed away. We lived in the neighborhood. My mom didn&rsquo;t have money, so once my dad passed, they latched on to me. &lsquo;We&rsquo;ll take care of you. We&rsquo;ll be your family.&rsquo; Kids were vulnerable.&rdquo;</em></p><p>Jacques arrived to the security area of the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center on a Saturday afternoon wearing gray-on-gray sweatpants and short sleeves. This and other track suits were his usual garb when he wasn&rsquo;t suited in a delivery work uniform or free Northwestern University swag.</p><p>For a few months, he had been mentoring young boys &ndash; some young men &ndash; in juvenile detention. The kids were waiting to appear in court.</p><p>Jacques joined a team of three other mentors, some with rough pasts of their own. Together, they would visit kids from one unit at the detention center.</p><p>Clearing security took about 45 minutes after a mix-up over visitation dates. As they waited, Jacques told the other guys about his new ride, fresh bullet-holes and all.</p><p>&ldquo;What!?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s what you get for buying a new car!&rdquo; the group leader, laughed.</p><p>&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t want to get a new car without a garage,&rdquo; Jacques told them, shaking his head.</p><p>Security officers filtered through their program supplies piece by piece.</p><p>&ldquo;What&rsquo;s the blanket for?&rdquo; one officer asked.</p><p>&ldquo;To bring them the comforts of home!&rdquo; Jacques jested, turning his head so the officer couldn&rsquo;t hear him.</p><p>In fact, the small quilted baby blanket would be put in the center of the group as they discussed a theme in a circle. Nothing they talked about was meant to leave the circle of trust. They taught the boys to respect this code.</p><p>Huddled in the security area, the mentors went over the game plan for the day. The theme of the day would be domestic violence, focusing on treatment of women and children. In the past, they had covered values, gangs and race. They often talked about doing the time and celebrating a second chance.</p><p>Jacques and the mentors signed in, went through the metal detector and headed over to the unit of about 16 boys they&rsquo;d be working with that day. The hallways looked more like a middle school than a detention center. Inspirational quotes and pictures adorned the walls.</p><p>Inside the dim, brick-walled meeting room, the boys sat on plastic chairs in rows facing the front of the room supervised by three security guards. They all wore long-sleeved navy blue &ldquo;JTDC&rdquo; shirts and gray pants with rubber shoes.</p><p>They seemed full of energy, ready to burst. Their unit had a month of peace &ndash; no fights &ndash; and the boys found out they would be rewarded with a party and food catered from the outside.</p><p>One of the mentors asked the kids to help set up the room, and they all stopped in their tracks to arrange the chairs in a circle.</p><p>A ball bounced in sight, and soon the group was running and playing an icebreaker game of &ldquo;Presidents and Assassins,&rdquo; a variation of dodge ball.</p><p>&ldquo;Move the ball! Move the ball!&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Y&rsquo;all gotta jump for it! Make it easy.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Spread out!&rdquo; Jacques shouted, getting in the game. &ldquo;Gotta take a shot sometime!&rdquo;</p><p>The kids hurried to corner Jacques and eliminate him from the game. Out of breath and beaming, he took a seat at the side of the room by the group leader who was preparing materials.</p><p>After the game, the boys circled up and were invited to share the latest &ldquo;rose and thorn&rdquo; stories in their lives, the high points and low points, passing a secret object for each to hold when it was his turn to speak.</p><p>The mentors handed out Bic pens and sheets of song lyrics. At key moments in the discussion, they took the opportunity to reflect on the theme of the day by playing popular songs. The kids underlined the words that spoke to them, moving to the beat. Jacques tapped his foot.</p><p>He shared his own story, flashbacks, snippets of pain and regrets. The boys raised their eyebrows and looked at each other as Jacques spoke. He was both a cautionary tale and a source of inspiration. His past was familiar to them &ndash; a future they didn&rsquo;t want. But he was proof that it was possible to start over.</p><p>In the lobby area after the session concluded, the leaders gathered their personal belongings from the lockers. They huddled once more and went over what went well, who was engaged and what they could have done better. For next time.</p><p>They scanned through the program curriculum and realized they hadn&rsquo;t managed to hit all the points because they allowed more time for the kids to talk about their wishes for the future.</p><p>Freedom. Beating their case. Going home. Taking care of their families. Moving out of the country and living happily ever after. Disappearing. Leaving the hood. Stopping the violence.</p></p> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 09:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-jacques-mentors-cook-county-juvenile-detention-110452 Exoneree Diaries: Journey to a 'Life after Justice' home http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-journey-life-after-justice-home-110389 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Capture_11.PNG" alt="" /><p><p><em>&ldquo;Being an exoneree you have no opportunity for training, you have no programs set in place for you. Programs are not available for exonerees as of right now, but there are plans, and we pushing it through to try to make things happen for exonerees today. But when I came home there were no programs at all for the exonerees, so that&rsquo;s one of the things we really fighting for with Life After Justice and Life After Innocence.&rdquo;</em></p><p><strong>&ldquo;ANTIONE CAN BE A LITTLE BIT</strong> of a dreamer,&rdquo; says Brad Lorden. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s one of the things I love most about him.&rdquo;</p><p>In 2012, Brad was finishing up as a law and business student at Loyola University when he put together a small business plan for Life After Justice, the organization Antione and fellow exoneree Jarrett Adams had talked about starting.&nbsp;</p><p>Antione&rsquo;s vision had long been in place. It started ten years earlier in those first steps of freedom outside of Cook County Jail as he wore another man&rsquo;s clothes without any place to go.</p><p>For Jarrett, an incoming law student, it was the not-so-distant memories of sleeping on his mother&rsquo;s sofa and, like Antione, being turned down for jobs because of his incarceration for a wrongful conviction.</p><p>The pair wanted to help other exonerees become self-sufficient, first by giving them a place to lay their heads at night in a residence shared with other exonerees &ndash; the Life After Justice house. Job training would come later, when the exonerees were ready, Antione and Jarrett thought.</p><p>But how the organization would become self-sustaining was another question, especially in a house that would incur expenses like property taxes and supplies.</p><p>So Brad and some business classmates took on the project. At the end of the semester, they presented their business plan to Antione and Jarrett at Loyola&rsquo;s Water Tower campus in Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;They were excited to see it becoming more of a reality,&rdquo; Brad, now a board member at Life After Justice, remembers. &ldquo;They were both moved that we put so much time and energy into it.&rdquo;</p><p>The students proposed that Life After Justice provide a grace period to exonerees first entering the house where they could live rent free. Then, after a set period of time, the house would expect them to contribute back through a particular job. The exoneree could supply a small amount of rent to help pay the monthly expenses of the house.</p><p>They also figured that there might not always be a steady stream of exonerees coming into the house, so Life After Justice could then open up the place to parolees. This was a natural move for Antione, who mentored former prisoners for his day job at the community center.</p><p>After the students finished their presentation, the entire class rose to its feet upon learning Jarrett would be entering law school in the fall.</p><p>&ldquo;It was nice,&rdquo; Jarrett says of the standing ovation. &ldquo;It was one of them things that made me realize just how far I had [come].&rdquo;<br /><br />About eight months later, the organization was given 501(c) 3 tax-status approval. Jarrett had his first semester of law school under his belt, collecting media nods, and Antione kept fixing up a cousin&rsquo;s place while setting his sights on another potential property for the Life After Justice house.</p><p><strong>&ldquo;IS THIS MR. DAY?</strong>&rdquo; Jarrett asked into the speaker phone, pretending to be a telemarketer as law professor Laura Caldwell stood next to him, fiddling around with the conference call set up as Brad walked in the room to join.</p><p>&ldquo;Yes, it is.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;How are you doing today, sir?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Doing well,&rdquo; Antione said, tentatively.</p><p>Jarrett burst out laughing: &ldquo;I&rsquo;m just messing! C&rsquo;mon man, you know my voice.&rdquo;</p><p>Jarrett, coming from work, was dressed in a purple and white checkered shirt, topped with a black sweater &ndash; business casual to his classmates&rsquo; plain casual student garb. As students settled in around a conference table, Jarrett sat at the head of it.&nbsp; Laura&rsquo;s weekly, workshop-style class engaged law students in a clinic to aid exonerees for her organization, Life After Innocence. One of the class projects was to provide support to Life After Justice.</p><p>Jarrett had become the face of Loyola&rsquo;s law school, Life After Innocence and now his own organization. At times he just wanted to be known as Jarrett, rather than an exoneree-turned-law student, but he also felt a responsibility to share his story to those who would listen. Laura showed him a picture of himself for a story about finishing his first year of law school.</p><p>&ldquo;My teeth are white!&rdquo; he laughed.</p><p>Jarrett was ready to get to work. On the class agenda: a planning call with Antione to discuss next steps for Life After Justice.</p><p>On the line, Antione could be heard still at work, preparing for his Wednesday night support group for ex-offenders.</p><p>&ldquo;Let the man in the wheelchair sign in first,&rdquo; Antione said to the support group attendees, as Laura&rsquo;s class listened to his conversation. &ldquo;Everyone sign in.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;He&rsquo;s the king of multi-tasking,&rdquo; Laura chuckled.</p><p>The class waited for him to wrap up, chatting and Google-chatting, akin to passing notes, across the conference table.</p><p>Antione returned to the conference call. They talked through what logo to pick &ndash; should they go with the one showing prison bars or with something else more forward-thing, they asked &ndash; then moved on discuss the status of the house. Antione was juggling two properties. One of them might become the house, at least temporarily.</p><p>&ldquo;We got to start somewhere,&rdquo; Antione said. &ldquo;We can start downtown in Trump Towers for all I care.&rdquo;</p><p>The students loaded Antione with questions: How long should exonerees stay before paying rent? How many units will be in the house? How many beds?</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve got a roomful of lawyers here, so we&rsquo;re just making sure we&rsquo;re dotting the I&rsquo;s and crossing the T&rsquo;s,&rdquo; Laura assured Antione.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m definitely not frustrated,&rdquo; Antione said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m excited!&rdquo;</p><p>The class went through potential zoning issues and real estate questions. Jarrett interrupted the discussion and reminded everyone of the mission.</p><p>&ldquo;My goal is to pull other people through the window I came through,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We win if we have one Antione Day.&rdquo;</p><p>Less than two weeks later, on a windy April day, Jarrett, Antione and Laura (and her dog Shafer), posed for a photo in front of a boarded-up brick home in Chicago&rsquo;s Austin neighborhood, close to Antione&rsquo;s childhood home. Antione wore sunglasses to shield his eyes from the gusty cold. Laura&rsquo;s red hair whipped around as she held Shafer close. Shafer wore a scarf.</p><p>Jarrett captioned the photo in big cursive letters, time-stamping it and sharing it on social media: &ldquo;Life After Justice House.&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 20 Jun 2014 15:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-journey-life-after-justice-home-110389 Exoneree Diaries: Antione's jam band http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-antiones-jam-band-110388 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/antione_0_0_1.png" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>&ldquo;People really don&rsquo;t understand it when you see a guy and he&rsquo;s not behind a bar or he&rsquo;s not in a blue uniform or a gold uniform, and you&rsquo;re just free and you able to socialize and somebody not tell you can&rsquo;t talk to him. It&rsquo;s great. It&rsquo;s a family. You know? We are a family.&rdquo;</em></p><p><strong>ANTIONE HAD A HEAD COLD,</strong> and his voice was hoarse. He bundled himself in a navy blue pullover on the chilly February night.</p><p>He was set to go on stage within minutes at the $100-a-ticket event at Buddy Guy&rsquo;s Legends, a famous Chicago blues club, for the Illinois Bar Foundation&rsquo;s annual Battle of the Bands fundraiser.</p><p>Feasting on trays of barbecue and an open bar, the after-work crowd was starting to feel good &ndash; lawyers, judges and law students. A handful of exonerees attended, including James Kluppelberg, who stood toward the side of the hall, finding it difficult to carry on a conversation over the chatter and noise.</p><p>The roster of dueling bands consisted of a couple ensembles of lawyers and judges with legal pun names: The Objections and DisBard. But Antione&rsquo;s band had a simple name and premise: Exoneree Band, formerly incarcerated and exonerated guys. The group was one of two bands Antione liked to jam with from time to time. Antione and his buddy Raymond Towler were two of the Exoneree Band regulars, playing at other fundraisers and events.</p><p>Towler lived in Ohio where he spent almost 30 years of life sentence behind bars for a rape and kidnapping that he did not commit. In May 2010, a judge ordered his release, choking back tears. Towler was 24 when he was wrongfully convicted, and 52 years old when he won his freedom. At Buddy Guy&rsquo;s, a thick gray beard covered Towler&rsquo;s face as he tuned up his guitar while his girlfriend shot video from a handheld camera, standing mid-crowd.</p><p>The president of the Illinois Bar Foundation took the stage and called on Laura Caldwell, who jumped up and took the microphone to introduce the exonerees.</p><p>&ldquo;Raymond Towler, who served almost 30 years,&rdquo; Laura began, pausing as the crowd clapped.<br />&ldquo;Antione Day, who served 10 years for a murder he didn&rsquo;t commit.&rdquo;</p><p>Exoneree Band opened with &ldquo;Mustang Sally&rdquo;, collecting yelps from the crowd. Antione introduced the next song, shaking his head and apologizing for his weak voice that he had lost three days earlier.&nbsp; The band had only practiced for four hours, he told the crowd, as guitar chords lightly strummed, filling the empty space between songs.</p><p>&ldquo;They call it stormy Monday, Tuesday&rsquo;s just as bad,&rdquo; Antione sang softly. His voice registered just above a whisper, and he played the drums. &ldquo;Lord, and Wednesday&rsquo;s worse, and Thursday&rsquo;s all so sad.&rdquo;</p><p>Antione took a break on the vocals as the band played an instrumental number. Towler had written the song for a friend still on the inside.</p><p>&ldquo;For a guy who didn&rsquo;t get out of jail,&rdquo; Antione told the crowd.</p><p>By the end of the set, Antione had warmed up his voice and started to smile, feeling the music. He clicked his drumsticks to kick off the next song. The guitarists weren&rsquo;t sure when to come in, but Antione didn&rsquo;t let up, clicking away until they joined him.</p><p>Towler mouthed to the bassist, &ldquo;Wrong chord.&rdquo; Antione chimed in, his voice gaining strength to Otis Redding&rsquo;s song, &ldquo;Sittin&rsquo; on the Dock of the Bay.&rdquo;</p><p>The cheers masked the cracks in Antione&rsquo;s voice as it grew louder and stronger by the final song. &ldquo;Glory, Hallelujah!&rdquo; he sang, wrapping up the more than half-hour set.</p><p>The host took the stage again, shouting above the audience&rsquo;s applause: &ldquo;Let&rsquo;s hear it for the Exonerees!&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 20 Jun 2014 14:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-antiones-jam-band-110388 Exoneree Diaries: How Jarrett Adams rebuilt his life after prison http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-how-jarrett-adams-rebuilt-his-life-after-prison-110381 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/antione_0_0_0.png" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>&quot;After all the lights and the cameras has shut down, life begins. It kicks in in a very neutral position because you don&rsquo;t know which way to go, what to do or how to get it done. Exonerees have no services that they qualify for. They have no reentry programs that they qualify for. &hellip;The reentry programs are designed to help guys once they return from prison, but exonerees don&rsquo;t have that opportunity.&quot;</em></p><p><strong>ANTIONE KEPT RUNNING INTO JARRETT ADAMS</strong>, a young Wisconsin exoneree who was from Chicago, at events coordinated by Loyola University&rsquo;s Life After Innocence program. About 20 years Antione&rsquo;s junior, Jarrett had only been out of prison for a handful of years.</p><p>Like Antione, a wrongful conviction robbed him of his youth. In September 1998 Jarrett was two months shy of 18 when he and two friends traveled from Chicago to Wisconsin to attend a party. The three teens returned with a false accusation of rape. The racially-charged case resulted in Jarrett&rsquo;s conviction in 2000, and it carried a 28-year prison sentence. With the help of the University of Wisconsin&rsquo;s Innocence Project, Jarrett was exonerated seven years later on evidence that his state-appointed attorney failed to investigate and secure witnesses who<br />could have cleared him.</p><p>&ldquo;You sit, hope and wish for the day to come and when it finally gets here. You&rsquo;re so exhausted that you really want to just move on,&rdquo; Jarrett remembers.</p><p>He walked back into the world without any living, medical or financial assistance from the state of Wisconsin. He wore a jogging suit purchased from the commissary and orange shoes provided by the jail. He had $30 left on his account &ndash; and was later charged $16 for the rubber-soled canvas shoes.</p><p>Jarrett slept on a couch at his mother and stepfather&rsquo;s place. They were both seniors living on fixed incomes. With a nearly 10-year gap in his resume, and his last known address being a super-max, Jarrett couldn&rsquo;t find work.</p><p>&ldquo;The news of my conviction and it being overturned was a click of a button away on Google,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Jarrett turned to academics, attending junior college and later enrolling at Roosevelt University, where he graduated with honors. He landed a job working as a full-time federal defense investigator. Next came law school at Loyola, where Jarrett quickly became the face of various media and outreach efforts &ndash; his story played to the school&rsquo;s mission.</p><p>&ldquo;Everyone is talking about &lsquo;Wow, he&rsquo;s in law school &ndash; this is great!&rsquo;&rdquo; Jarrett says. &ldquo;But no one really knows that I&rsquo;m still paying on debts that were incurred as a result of being locked up and wrongfully convicted.&rdquo;</p><p>In Wisconsin, the compensation statute for exonerees is one of the weakest in the country, offering up to $25,000 to those who can prove that they didn&rsquo;t bring about their own wrongful conviction. Jarrett received nothing.</p><p>&ldquo;All the charges were dismissed, and so now you&rsquo;re asking me to come back around and prove that I was absolutely innocent? That was a standard that it didn&rsquo;t even take for me to be found guilty!&rdquo;</p><p>Prior to becoming a student at Loyola, Jarrett crossed paths with Laura Caldwell, executive director of Life After Innocence, who had worked on Antione&rsquo;s certificate of innocence petition, helping to clear his name. She introduced the pair.</p><p>It wasn&rsquo;t until an Innocence Network conference, in a hotel lobby in the company of another exoneree, that Antione and Jarrett shared their stories of release from prison, struggling to find work and sleeping on their mothers&rsquo; couches. They both knew of other exonerees who didn&rsquo;t even have that much. They knew guys who were sleeping in drug houses or signing contracts with family members to give up some of their future compensation (if any) for a roof over their head.</p><p>Antione told Jarrett about his idea, the one he had shared with his mother before she passed, to create a home for exonerees where they could escape the pressures of the real world. Jarrett thought they could also provide resources to help these exonerees reenter society. No such state-funded programs exist in Illinois for exonerees upon release.</p><p>&ldquo;We found it to be therapeutic to share our stories with each other,&rdquo; Jarrett says. &ldquo;And it gave birth to the idea of Life After Justice [their non-profit organization] and preventing our struggles from becoming everyone else&rsquo;s.&rdquo;</p></p> Thu, 19 Jun 2014 17:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-how-jarrett-adams-rebuilt-his-life-after-prison-110381 Exoneree Diaries: Jacques shares his story with Chicago youth http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-jacques-shares-his-story-chicago-youth-110362 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/jaques_0_0_0_0_2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>&ldquo;The prison is full of young black men. I mean, they&rsquo;re young. They are pulling them in there. Some of them are guilty. But the range of sentences they are giving to them when someone else is doing the same crime, I hate to say it, but Caucasian, and getting a lesser sentence. That&rsquo;s racism.&rdquo;</em></p><p><strong>JACQUES DROVE THROUGH RUSH HOUR TRAFFIC</strong> after work to try to get to the library event on time. On the dashboard of his new car &ndash; recently shot up while parked on the street &ndash; he kept an old photo of two of his sons, asleep as babies.</p><p>He looked in his rear view mirror at the gash on his forehead. He had been rear-ended over the weekend and hit his head. The next day was his granddaughter&rsquo;s birthday, but he missed out because of a headache. By Monday morning, Jacques was worried about his head injury and asked some folks at the medical school where he worked to check it out.</p><p>Parking his car in the lot next to the North Austin Library, Jacques muttered to himself that his car might get towed. He asked two kids walking by if it was OK to park there. The kids shuffled off, startled.</p><p>He hurried and popped the trunk to take out booklets from the Center on Wrongful Convictions, the organization that took his case.</p><p>Inside the library, artwork by kids, pictures of rainbows and hearts adorned the walls. Eight names, &ldquo;2013: Rahm&rsquo;s Readers&rdquo; were posted on bulletin board for a summer reading challenge.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve got one more person here,&rdquo; the event organizer, Lisa, announced to the group of neighborhood kids and community members. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s going to share his story. His name is Jacques Rivera.&rdquo;</p><p>Jacques took his seat on the panel next to his longtime friends and former prisoners Juan Rivera and Daniel Taylor &ndash; both exonerees. Daniel, released a month before, had already found an apartment and obtained his drivers license. He was optimistic about his future.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s been triumphant because I have achieved so much in such a short amount of time,&rdquo; he said, smiling wide. &ldquo;The last piece of the puzzle of me reacclimating to society is getting a job.&rdquo;</p><p>Johnnie Lee Savory, released from prison in 2006, also joined the panel. At 14 years old, Savory was arrested in 1977 in a double-murder case. He saw the dawn of DNA evidence and its power to exonerate innocent inmates. For more than 20 years &ndash; even after his release &ndash; he fought for DNA testing of old evidence. A week earlier, a Peoria County judge ruled DNA evidence could be tested. Savory was elated to have a chance to clear his name.</p><p>&ldquo;How are you doing princess?&rdquo; Jacques asked a little girl in the front row, buying a little time to catch his breath before launching into his story.</p><p>Jacques had told it many times to anyone who would listen. A young boy witnessed a shooting. He wasn&rsquo;t sure who it was. He didn&rsquo;t identify me. The victim died. They brought me back in. The young boy said it was me. He lied on the stand. I was sentenced to 85 years.</p><p>Every time he retold what happened, Jacques would work himself up, becoming animated, raising his voice and pleading with his audience.</p><p>&ldquo;They know what they&rsquo;re doing. Believe me!&rdquo; Jacques said.</p><p>Jacques explained to the group that he got his certificate of innocence, which led to some compensation from the state.</p><p>&ldquo;Where do you think that money is coming from?&rdquo; he asked.</p><p>&ldquo;Taxpayers,&rdquo; a few adults in the library piped up.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve got civil lawsuits,&rdquo; Jacques continued. &ldquo;If we win that money, where do you think that money is coming from?&rdquo;</p><p>The rhetorical question lingered.&nbsp; Jacques looked in the faces of the young people, sitting in clusters near the panel. Towards the back, a 13-year-old kid slouched on a chair. The eighth grader wore a pink ribbon bracelet for breast cancer research. His eyes were bloodshot.</p><p>&ldquo;I was a gang member,&rdquo; Jacques said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m not going to lie about that. It&rsquo;s because I grew up without a father.&rdquo;</p><p>He called for mentorship, for guys to step up.</p><p>&ldquo;I haven&rsquo;t had no counseling,&rdquo; Jacques admitted. &ldquo;I had no therapy. I had nothing. If it wasn&rsquo;t for Northwestern, I&rsquo;m still struggling with my transition back into society.&rdquo;</p><p>Whiffs of free Chipotle burritos filled the room, just delivered, stacked next to Dixie cups, apples and oranges.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;C&rsquo;mon, we want to get everyone engaged,&rdquo; Lisa said, moving the conversation forward.</p><p>She asked the kids about different forms of violence. Social violence. Media violence. Gender violence.</p><p>&ldquo;Statistics shows that one group isn&rsquo;t more violent than the other,&rdquo; a young man spoke up. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s violent for the media to portray that us, as young black people, are criminals.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Anybody else? What do you think contributes to violence?&rdquo; Lisa said.</p><p>The Internet, an 11-year-old boy volunteered. Closing mental health clinics. Closing 50 Chicago schools, others suggested.</p><p>&ldquo;So true,&rdquo; Lisa nodded.</p><p>She invited the kids to start eating because the library needed to close in 10 minutes. The children clamored to the food table, grabbing cups of guacamole and bags of burritos. A staff attorney at First Defense Legal Aid, which provides emergency criminal representation, quickly handed out free T-shirts and asked the kids what they would say if a police officer stopped them on the street.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;d call my lawyer!&rdquo; a little girl answered.</p><p>&ldquo;Anybody who gets arrested by Chicago police can call our number, and we&rsquo;ll send a lawyer to the police station to represent you for free. Who can tell me why that&rsquo;s important?&rdquo; Rickets asked.</p><p>&ldquo;Because you can get stopped for no reason,&rdquo; the 13-year-old with bloodshot eyes answered.</p><p>A mountain of pizza arrived with bags of chips. The kids crunched away. Jacques grabbed some food and slung a T-shirt over his shoulder. He headed outside to his car where Juan stood waiting for him.</p><p>Their cars were parked side by side. They inspected the damage of Jacques&rsquo; new Kia, shaking their heads at the bullet holes.</p><p>The two men shared a last name, but had no relation, though they were often mistaken as brothers or cousins. In prison, they had a special whistle they would use.</p><p>Driving away, Jacques rolled down his window to say hello to his friend Matilda.</p><p>&ldquo;Nice wheels!&rdquo; Matilda shouted.</p><p>&ldquo;You know!&rdquo; Jacques laughed.</p><p>&ldquo;You earned it! It was just on layaway!&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Slave labor!&rdquo;</p><p>Jacques drove back home to the apartment he shared with his mother. It was summertime, his upstairs room would still be ablaze at this time of day. His mother wanted to put in a fan for him, but Jacques didn&rsquo;t care too much. You get used to stuff like that in prison, he reminded her.</p></p> Tue, 17 Jun 2014 17:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-jacques-shares-his-story-chicago-youth-110362 Exoneree Diaries: Jacques visits his son in jail http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-jacques-visits-his-son-jail-110361 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/jaques_0_0_0_0_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>&ldquo;They were young when I left them, so they really don&rsquo;t know me and I don&rsquo;t know them.&rdquo;</em></p><p><strong>THE INMATE STARED AT JACQUES</strong> through the glass at Cook County Jail.</p><p>Outside the same jail, about a year and a half earlier, news cameras were rolling as Jacques&rsquo; three grown children ran up to him, a free man after more than 20 years of wrongful incarceration.</p><p>Back at the jail, this time a visitor, Jacques peered through the other side of the glass. Before him, a 25-year-old man appeared with features similar to his own.</p><p>He was his son, a fourth child, Joshua.</p><p>Joshua had been locked up for a few years waiting for his criminal case to play out, entering the system as Jacques was fighting to get out.</p><p>With dark unruly hair and a goatee, Joshua resembled a younger Jacques. Jacques kept his goatee throughout the years, which turned to silver in prison. As a free man, sometimes he would cover the patch with a touch of Just For Men hair dye. Other times, he didn&rsquo;t mind trading in a little gray for some respect, finding that thugs on the street tended to leave him alone when he looked older.</p><p>Jacques knew little about Joshua&rsquo;s case. All he knew was what was missing &ndash; himself &ndash; a father who was absent from some of his son&rsquo;s earliest memories.</p><p>&ldquo;This wrongful conviction definitely took a toll on my life with my kids,&rdquo; Jacques says. &ldquo;It basically ruined my life with my children. Because they don&rsquo;t know me.&rdquo;</p><p>Court records show Joshua was charged with holding up two women, hijacking their Jeep in 2009, grabbing one of them by the hair and detaining them both. A couple of weeks after the crime, the Jeep crashed out with two of his friends inside. They were killed. Joshua, severely injured, was hospitalized for months before being transferred to jail on a slew of charges. While in custody, he racked up another charge for assaulting an officer in 2012.</p><p>Joshua was considering a plea deal when Jacques visited him. Joshua was already familiar with the Illinois Department of Corrections, convicted of a weapons charge in 2007, when he was 19 years old. As they spoke, Jacques couldn&rsquo;t tell if they were being recorded.</p><p>&ldquo;The public defender lady is supposed to call me,&rdquo; Jacques said.</p><p>He encouraged his son to learn as many skills as he could in prison, to do the time and make the most of it.</p><p>Jacques preached this and another gospel to friends who called him from prison.</p><p>&ldquo;I accept phone calls from them,&rdquo; Jacques says. &ldquo;All of them are Christians that do call me. They&rsquo;re not gang members.&rdquo;</p><p>He would tell them to minister to the young kids in prison. &ldquo;You see what the Lord can do for me? He can do the same for you.&rdquo;</p><p>Joshua ended up taking the deal, pleading guilty to the car hijacking in exchange for serving half of an 18-year sentence, with some credit for the time in jail. A judge sentenced him to three more years for assaulting the officer.</p><p>After sentencing, Joshua was booked at Robinson Correctional Center, a 4-hour drive south of Chicago. He stared straight ahead, blankly, for another mug shot. His thick dark hair was slicked back in a ponytail, his goatee neatly trimmed. At more than six feet, he stood taller than his dad.</p><p>The intake officers noted in his file the presence of several tattoos. On Joshua&rsquo;s left forearm, there were several, including &ldquo;RIP Julio&rdquo; and &ldquo;Trust no bitch.&rdquo;&nbsp; On the right, one tattoo showed a pitchfork and horns.</p><p>On his back, he tattooed a clown inked with the words, &ldquo;Would you love me.&rdquo;</p></p> Tue, 17 Jun 2014 16:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-jacques-visits-his-son-jail-110361