WBEZ | exoneree diaries http://www.wbez.org/tags/exoneree-diaries Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Exoneree Diaries: As series closes, how can system ever repay the falsely imprisoned? http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-series-closes-how-can-system-ever-repay-falsely-imprisoned <p><p>Over the past two decades, Chicago lawyers, journalists and innocence crusaders have exposed flaws in the criminal justice system. Indeed, Cook County leads the country in the number of exonerations. But one area of wrongful convictions that has gone overlooked, apart from media coverage about multimillion dollar lawsuits won by the few, is how exonerated prisoners struggle to re-enter society and rebuild the lives and livelihoods they lost.</p><p>Exonerated prisoners encounter a world where they may have no place to sleep and no way to feed or clothe themselves; where family and friends have grown up, grown apart or died; where only 30 states plus Washington, D.C., have passed compensation statutes, and even some of these laws fall short; where they continue to experience the stigma of lockup and struggle to overcome years of institutionalization. On top of this, in Illinois criminal records are not automatically cleared when judges overturn convictions, interfering with the ability to find work and become part of a community.</p><p>These people do not even have a name. No dictionary I have found lists the word &ldquo;exoneree,&rdquo; even though as of this writing, there are 1,444 known men and women in the United States whose cases have been overturned since 1989, according to the National Registry of Exonerations.</p><p>For too long, they have been nearly voiceless. But in September 2013, WBEZ committed to giving three Cook County exonerees &ndash; Antione Day, Jacques Rivera and James Kluppelberg &ndash; a big voice.</p><p>Together, we launched Exoneree Diaries, a year-long multimedia series to explore a new frontier of the innocence movement. At the time, exonerations were at a record level &ndash; 87 total in 2013. In 2014, exonerations kept pace with those highs, with 76 convictions overturned as of this writing.</p><p>The narratives are built on a foundation of hundreds of hours of interviews with exonerees; their family and friends; criminal justice experts and officials; and lawyers and students. More than 4,000 pages of records &mdash; some more than a quarter of a century old &mdash; support their accounts, including original trial transcripts; court filings, orders and dockets; police reports; letters; news stories; affidavits and other evidence.</p><p>In the past year, we&rsquo;ve followed the lives of three exonerees:</p><blockquote><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/antione_0_0_1.png" style="height: 126px; width: 200px; float: left; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="Antione Day (Andrew Gill/WBEZ)" /><strong>Antione Day</strong>, who was convicted in 1992 based on false testimony and poor representation, had a less than triumphant release when his case was overturned 12 years ago, after nearly a decade of incarceration. He found himself outside in the rain with no money and nowhere to go, wearing clothes he had plucked from a stinking pile inside the Cook County Jail. For another decade, he lived with stigma, was repeatedly refused for employment and was profiled by police. He earned a certificate of innocence in 2011, the legal requirement in Illinois to obtain compensation, almost missing the deadline because he was unaware the state had such a process. With his compensation earnings, he started his own organization to help exonerees adjust to life after prison. Almost a quarter of a century after his ordeal began, Antione still feels like he is in the state&rsquo;s back pocket, especially after an officer spooked him by recalling his old arrest warrant for murder.</p></blockquote><blockquote><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/jaques_0_0_0_0.jpg" style="height: 150px; width: 200px; float: left; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="Jacques Rivera (Andrew Gill/WBEZ)" /><strong>Jacques</strong> <strong>Rivera </strong>was released from prison in 2011 after more than two decades behind bars. Eyewitness misidentification contributed to his wrongful conviction. His release garnered media attention, but when the cameras stopped clicking, he found himself struggling with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. He slept with a knife under his pillow for the first few months of his release, and he has had the frequent nightmare in which the detective from his criminal case, the notorious Reynaldo Guevara, shoots him in the back. Rivera has a civil lawsuit pending against the City of Chicago, and his attorneys are fighting to track down and access old police records. He is trying to reestablish relationships with his children &ndash; one of whom is incarcerated.</p></blockquote><blockquote><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/james_0_0%20-%20Copy_0.png" style="height: 103px; width: 200px; float: left; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="James Kluppleberg (Andrew Gill/WBEZ)" /><strong>James Kluppleberg </strong>spent almost a quarter of a century in prison when he was released in 2012. His mother died not long before his release, and his wife had divorced him about halfway through his incarceration. Were it not for his estranged son welcoming him in, James would have been homeless. His two granddaughters, whom he had never met, sacrificed their room for him, and for months he slept on their bunk bed with pink Tinkerbell sheets. He quickly sought employment, submitted hundreds of job applications, with little response. James went to interview for one position, only to be turned away on the spot. &ldquo;We don&rsquo;t hire convicted murderers,&rdquo; they told him. He obtained a certificate of innocence, but the state fought his attempt, creating another long legal hurdle. James is suing about a dozen Chicago police officers for allegedly having contributed to his wrongful incarceration, in part due to a false confession that was beaten out of him, leading to health issues he continues to face. The lawsuit targets former police commander Jon Burge.</p></blockquote><p>We kicked off the series with<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BMmBbNhrnY"> a short documentary</a> introducing the three exonerees. Over the course of the year, WBEZ&rsquo;s Morning Shift hosted our series 11 times, featuring all three exonerees. Sister Helen Prejean of &ldquo;Dead Man Walking&rdquo; and Kirk Bloodsworth, the first death row exoneree cleared by DNA evidence, also joined the program.</p><p>In addition to telling the exonerees&rsquo; individual stories, we delved into law and policy around exoneration issues, with insight from Loyola University&rsquo;s Life After Innocence program, the only project in the country solely dedicated to helping exonerees after release. We talked to Jarrett Adams, a Chicago native and Wisconsin exoneree with a burgeoning career as a lawyer, who gave us perspective on the weak compensation statute in Wisconsin. The state only compensates $5,000 per year of incarceration.</p><p>On WBEZ&rsquo;s sister station Vocalo, we learned from Indiana exoneree <a href="http://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/pages/casedetail.aspx?caseid=4085">Kristine Bunch</a> and newly released prisoner Jennifer Del Prete<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/commentary-exoneree-movement-leaving-women-behind-110206"> what unique struggles women face</a> as they reenter their communities after a wrongful incarceration.</p><p>Over the past year, the series was spotlighted alongside famed innocence champion Barry Scheck at Loyola University. The Illinois Humanities Council invited us to speak at the Chicago Cultural Center and Northwestern Academy for Chicago Public Schools program hosted us at Northwestern University School of Law. Exoneree Diaries also served as a backdrop to a panel of women exonerees at the international Innocence Network conference in April 2014. As the series came to a close, the Online News Association selected Exoneree Diaries as a finalist for an Online Journalism Award, one of the highest honors in the field.</p><p>On a national scale, we have learned a lot about wrongful convictions this year, thanks to researchers at the National Registry of Exonerations. The highlights:</p><ul><li><a href="http://hosted.verticalresponse.com/1438491/60b961faeb/546806695/58c46ec68e/">One out of five known exonerations</a> is for a crime that never happened</li><li>About<a href="http://www.pnas.org/content/111/20/7230.abstract"> 4 percent of people</a> on death row are likely innocent</li><li>The<a href="https://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Pages/ExonerationsContribFactorsByCrime.aspx"> leading contributing factor</a> to wrongful convictions is perjury or false accusations (56 percent, or more than half of exonerations)</li><li>Among<a href="https://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Pages/news.aspx"> female exonerees</a>, 63 percent of female exonerees were convicted of crimes that never occurred, three times the rate for men. &nbsp;</li></ul><p>Across the country, we also saw significant reforms in the area of prosecutorial ethics this year. For the first time,<a href="http://www.texasmonthly.com/story/jail-time-may-be-least-ken-anderson%E2%80%99s-problems"> a prosecutor was sent to jail</a> for his direct involvement in wrongfully convicting an innocent man in 1987.</p><p>The Dallas County District Attorney&rsquo;s Office has continued to lead the way in showing how prosecutors are supposed to get it right. In July, Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins exonerated a former prisoner through his office&rsquo;s own systematic DNA review of old evidence. It was<a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/07/24/dallas-mans-exoneration-makes-national-history/13040299/"> the first exoneration of its kind</a>. In 2007, this was the first prosecutors&rsquo; office to open a conviction integrity unit to review old cases. Now it&rsquo;s become a national model for other projects, and the<a href="http://www.myfoxdc.com/story/26512823/us-attorney-in-the-district-creates-post-conviction-integrity-unit"> U.S. Attorney&rsquo;s Office in D.C. recently announced</a> it will soon have the first federal conviction integrity unit in the country.</p><p>Where we have yet to see much progress is in the area of compensation. <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2014/06/16/320356084/when-innocent-people-go-to-prison-states-pay">There remains no system</a> to fairly and consistently compensate innocent people.</p><p>As this entry marks the 50th and final installment of Exoneree Diaries, we end this media experiment as we began, by breaking form. Journalists are generally discouraged from thanking their sources, but we must express gratitude to the exonerees &ndash; Antione, Jacques and James &ndash; who anchored this project with their stories.</p><p>These three men made themselves vulnerable to us, digging deep for their most painful memories. Along the way, they revealed an unfortunate reality. They showed us that after a wrongful conviction, release from prison is not the victory it is perceived to be. It is, in fact, just the beginning of another dark narrative seldom told.</p><p>In telling that story, or trying to, we have often asked how these exonerees can ever be made whole. Antione, Jacques and James have answered that question for us: They won&rsquo;t. They can&rsquo;t. They can never make up for lost time. They can only move forward.</p><p>&ldquo;It is a burden, and it continues to haunt you,&rdquo; Antione said.</p><p>So the question becomes, how will the U.S. justice system exonerate itself of its crimes against innocent people?</p></p> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 10:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-series-closes-how-can-system-ever-repay-falsely-imprisoned Exoneree Diaries: James moves his life forward http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-james-moves-his-life-forward-110930 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/james_0_0 - Copy_0_3.png" alt="" /><p><p><em>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t want to be remembered as the guy who lost a quarter of a century of his life. I want to be remembered for what I do now.&rdquo;</em></p><p><strong>JAMES ARRIVED</strong> at the Lincoln Park barbecue joint a little late to meet his family and friends for a party in his honor. Stepping out of the rain, he had rolled his navy blue sleeves up to his elbows. About an hour and a half before quitting time at work, James was delayed because he thought he had lost the master keys at his new handyman job.</p><p>&ldquo;I thought I was toast,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;They were going to have to rekey the whole building.&rdquo;</p><p>Law professor Laura Caldwell swarmed James with her troop of students, there to celebrate James&rsquo; recent court victory.</p><p>After two summer hearings, a Cook County judge granted James a certificate of innocence, clearing the path to lift the false murder and arson charges from his record and seek compensation from the state of Illinois &ndash; about $200,000. Tears had fallen from James&rsquo; cheeks when he sat in court and absorbed the news.</p><p>Laura and third-year law student Abigail Ledman, who was assigned within the Life After Innocence class to help James, organized the fete, selecting some of his favorite eats and inviting other exonerees to the late August soiree.</p><p>James&rsquo; daughter Sarah, who had connected with him in prison, was visiting with her 3-year-old daughter Tori. The redhead tot danced around with her young cousins Melanie and Rylie, his son&rsquo;s kids with whom he lived during his first year of release. James held up his cell phone to take a video of the energized bunch.<br /><br />Fellow exoneree Antione Day nudged James to tell him he had just lost his keys the other day when he went to McDonalds to buy a double cheeseburger meal for his granddaughter.<br /><br />&ldquo;Antione, there&rsquo;s chicken and beef brisket, pork...&rdquo; Laura tried to hustle him to the buffet teeming with meat, mac and cheese, coleslaw and baked beans.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t eat pork,&rdquo; Antione said. &ldquo;I barely eat chicken or fish.&rdquo;</p><p>James filled his plate and took a seat at the head of the long bar table.<br /><br />Abigail stood up on a leg of a stool to get everyone&rsquo;s attention.<br />&nbsp;<br />&ldquo;James is my individual client for Life After Innocence, but I don&rsquo;t even use that name anymore because he&rsquo;s become one of my closest friends,&rdquo; she said.<br /><br />Abigail turned to James Jr. and his wife, James&rsquo; daughter-in-law, Felicia: &ldquo;I can&rsquo;t thank you all enough for being that strong support system.&rdquo;<br /><br />Then she pivoted back to James. &ldquo;I can&rsquo;t tell you how much I admire and look up to you. Everything you&rsquo;ve been through. If I can half as much perseverance as you, I&rsquo;d be very lucky.&rdquo;<br /><br />James&rsquo; smile was slight, but it was a decided departure from his usual deadpan demeanor. He appeared to beam from within.<br /><br />His grandchildren piled up on his lap, clobbering him on his stool.<br /><br />&ldquo;One, two, three!&rdquo; said Laura, snapping a photo of his family. &ldquo;And one more,&rdquo; she added.<br /><br />They all held their cheesy smiles.</p><p><strong>ALMOST A YEAR LATER</strong>, James found himself in a court room again. This time it was to determine if he still owed child support for an estranged daughter &ndash; now an adult -- for his nearly 25 years in prison, during which he wasn&rsquo;t earning a livable wage.</p><p>His ties with his other children had blossomed over the last year.</p><p>The previous February, he took a 10-day trip to visit his daughter Sarah and her family on the outer banks of North Carolina. They saw alligators, went bowling, visited an aquarium, swam at a clubhouse pool, tried on silly hats at a souvenir shop and celebrated his granddaughter Tori&rsquo;s fourth birthday. Her red hair had grown thicker and longer, forming a stronger halo-swirl above her head.</p><p>On the trip, James had cooked every night, treating his family to ribs, fries, grilled steaks and chicken. He baked potatoes and served up corn on the cob. He made his pasta sauce with pork-neck bones, layered and baked with cheese ravioli and mozzarella &ndash; a famous dish James Jr. and Felicia also loved.</p><p>The following June, James headed back out east for Sarah&rsquo;s college graduation.</p><p>Back in court, James sat behind the other dads tasked with paying their exes. The first guy up was trying to avoid paying his wife&rsquo;s lawyer fees. The judge ordered him to pay $1,500 a month for three months.</p><p>&quot;1,500!?&quot;&nbsp; he bellowed.</p><p>The judge looked at him blankly. &quot;Yeah.&quot;</p><p>From the second row, James wiped his tired eyes, lifting his eye glasses and propping them on his bald head. He was out of work again &ndash; this time for medical issues, debilitating carpal tunnel on both sides. He hoped surgery would take care of it.</p><p>The next guy approached the bench. No lawyer, he represented himself, shirt untucked and backpack in tow. He interrupted his wife&rsquo;s attorney. It had been a long court fight.</p><p>&quot;This is not my average child support case,&quot; the judge told him.</p><p>James whispered to himself: &quot;If she doesn&#39;t think this is average, wait &lsquo;til she hears mine.&quot;</p><p>His case was next up. The motion: To reduce or eliminate child support.</p><p>&quot;If you may recall, Mr. Kluppelberg was wrongfully incarcerated for about 25 years serving a life sentence,&quot; his lawyer told the judge. &ldquo;The state subsequently held that money for support. He applied for a &lsquo;clean slate&rsquo; and was denied.&rdquo;</p><p>She asked the court to waive all the years owed. The judge said she would enter the order to direct the money back to James. Close to $20,000, most of the money had been snatched from his wrongful conviction compensation.</p><p>With more cases on deck, the judge paused. She looked at James and shook her head. Her all-business tone shifted to empathy.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;m sorry about this phase of your life story.&quot;</p><p>She wished him the best.</p><p>James, dazed, answered her. He took a big sigh.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;m walking free,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Just moving forward. Thank you, ma&rsquo;am.&quot;</p></p> Mon, 13 Oct 2014 09:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-james-moves-his-life-forward-110930 Morning Shift: What happens when wards of the state grow up? http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-09-24/morning-shift-what-happens-when-wards-state-grow <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/timocuffs.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We get a final installment of our &quot;Exoneree Diaries&quot; series. And, a look at the efforts officials are taking to find use for the Cook County Hospital building. Also, we talk about the responsibility of the state when dealing with older kids in their care.</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-what-happens-to-older-wards-of-the-s/embed?header=false&border=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-what-happens-to-older-wards-of-the-s.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-what-happens-to-older-wards-of-the-s" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: What happens when wards of the state grow up?" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Wed, 24 Sep 2014 08:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-09-24/morning-shift-what-happens-when-wards-state-grow 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