WBEZ | Exoneree Diaries http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Exoneree Diaries: Antione stops running http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-antione-stops-running-110831 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/antione_0_0_1_3.png" alt="" /><p><p><em>&ldquo;Mr. Joseph told me, &lsquo;Don&#39;t call me your angel.&rsquo; But he is. He said, &lsquo;I see what they done to you. I&#39;m going to get you out of here, but I want you to be patient.&rsquo; From that point on, I fell in love.&rdquo;</em><br /><br /><strong>ANTIONE OVERSLEPT</strong>. It was a Saturday morning, and his 3-year-old daughter had been visiting from out of town, so he lost track of time between the ice cream cones, movies and going to the zoo.<br /><br />But this morning, he had an important errand, and he was already more than two hours late for it.<br /><br />Seven years after the death of Howard Joseph, the real estate attorney who helped free him in 2002, Antione had connected with Joseph&rsquo;s son Rick. He had made plans to see Rick before, but Antione kept missing their meetings. He finally lost his number when his phone was stolen from his car at a hardware store in the summer of 2013.<br /><br />Antione drove to Rick&rsquo;s suburban home in Buffalo Grove, waking himself up with sips from a bottle of water. On the passenger seat, Antione had an award to give Rick. The Howard Joseph Award.<br /><br />Inside a blue velvet case, on glass it read:<br /><br />&ldquo;Loyola University Chicago<br />School of Law<br />And<br />Life After Innocence<br />Present<br />The Family of Howard Joseph<br />With the inaugural<br />Howard Joseph Innocence Award<br />On October 25, 2012<br />For commitment<br />To serving the innocent&rdquo;<br /><br />When Antione pulled up to Rick&rsquo;s home, the slim-build, graying man was waiting for him in the driveway. Antione immediately handed him the award. Rick took it and invited Antione inside.<br /><br />&ldquo;I can&#39;t get you anything?&rdquo; Rick offered.<br /><br />&ldquo;Nah, I&#39;m good -- this water is enough,&rdquo; Antione said. &ldquo;You look like your dad.&rdquo;<br /><br />&ldquo;Yeah, some people say that.&rdquo;<br /><br />Standing in his kitchen, Rick slid the velvet case off the glass award. &ldquo;This is awesome.&rdquo;<br /><br />&ldquo;We were trying to get it together,&rdquo; Antione explained the year delay in delivering the award. He took a seat at the kitchen table. &ldquo;I&#39;m a bad timekeeper.&rdquo;<br /><br />&ldquo;It&#39;s ok. I&#39;m glad you&#39;re finally here.&rdquo;<br /><br />Before Antione&rsquo;s wrongful conviction, Rick had worked with his sister at a video duplication company in the late 80s.<br /><br />&quot;She asked me if I knew a good attorney,&rdquo; Rick remembered. &ldquo;I didn&#39;t know if it was for you or something else.&rdquo;<br /><br />&ldquo;It was me.&rdquo;<br /><br />&quot;When I gave her my dad&#39;s name, I never thought in a million years he&#39;d be the one to take the case!&rdquo;<br /><br />Rick&rsquo;s wife walked into the room, smiling.<br /><br />&quot;Kim, this is the famous Antione Day.&quot;<br /><br />She shook his hand and asked to see her late father-in-law&rsquo;s award.<br /><br />&quot;Take it out, take it out,&quot; Kim said.<br /><br />&ldquo;This is the first one,&quot; Antione said.<br /><br />They swapped stories about &ldquo;Mr. Joseph,&rdquo; as Antione called him.<br /><br />They talked about how people in court thought Mr. Joseph was a joker for wearing a crooked tie and shuffling to the bench in corduroy moccasins, his house slippers. How he drove a beat-up station wagon, operated an antique shop for a few years and insisted on using a typewriter. How his office looked like a bomb went off in it. How he and Antione would eat Good Humor ice cream bars together -- toasted almond and strawberry. How he would send him Time Magazine in prison.<br /><br />But when Mr. Joseph first visited Antione in the penitentiary, he didn&#39;t call. He didn&rsquo;t leave a message. Antione had no idea who he was.<br /><br />&ldquo;I go up, and here is this little old white man,&rdquo; Antione told Rick. &ldquo;He said sit down. Didn&#39;t introduce himself or nothing.&rdquo;<br /><br />Mr. Joseph always called him by his legal first name, &ldquo;Lee.&rdquo; He reminded Antione of Columbo. Trenchcoat and everything.<br /><br />&ldquo;I knew he was going to get you out,&rdquo; Rick said.&nbsp;<br /><br />Mr. Joseph had told Rick that he would try to sue the city for millions of dollars. It never happened. He died after filing a lawsuit, which was later dismissed.<br /><br />&ldquo;When I lost communication with him, your mom had passed first?&rdquo; Antione asked.<br /><br />Rick nodded. His mother had endured seven bouts of cancer in 20 years. The last one got her in 2006.<br /><br />&ldquo;I talked to him,&rdquo; Antione said. &ldquo;I wanted to come to the services and pay my respects. But I just lost him. I went by the office a couple times and couldn&rsquo;t get him. He wasn&#39;t there. Then he took sick.&rdquo;<br /><br />Mr. Joseph had moved to a facility in Rogers Park where he fell and broke his hip. He never left the hospital after that, losing his ability to speak. When Rick and his brother visited him one day, he was on a respirator. They went to lunch, and when they returned, he was gone.<br /><br />&ldquo;He died broke,&rdquo; Rick said.<br /><br />After a silence, he retreated to another room and returned, holding his father&rsquo;s law degree from Northwestern University. He handed it to Antione.<br /><br />Antione stared at it. He ran his hand over the seal. Then he raised it to cover his face. He wept.<br /><br />&quot;It&#39;s alright,&quot; Rick said. &ldquo;Want a Kleenex?&rdquo;<br /><br />&quot;Oh, man,&rdquo; Antione sniffed.<br /><br />&ldquo;I didn&#39;t know you were such a sissy,&rdquo; Rick teased. &ldquo;No long-lost brother of mine is going to be sitting here crying!&quot;<br /><br />&ldquo;God, Rick,&rdquo; Kim chimed in. &ldquo;Have some tact.&rdquo;<br /><br />Antione took off his glasses and wiped them.<br /><br />&quot;I&rsquo;m always mentioning his name,&rdquo; he said, voice cracking. &ldquo;In all the work that I do, I never forget about him. My mentor programs. My drug abuse programs.&rdquo;<br /><br />They stood up to take pictures with the Howard Joseph Award and the law degree.<br /><br />&ldquo;I want you to take it,&rdquo; Rick said, gently pushing the degree toward Antione. &ldquo;Keep it in the family.&rdquo;<br /><br />&ldquo;No, no, no&hellip;&rdquo;Antione shook his head.<br /><br />&ldquo;It means more to you than it does to me,&rdquo; Rick said. &ldquo;Want me to get you a hanky?&rdquo;<br /><br />&ldquo;I probably need a bath towel!&rdquo; Antione joked as fresh tears rolled from his eyes.<br /><br />&ldquo;Just don&#39;t lose it.&rdquo;<br /><br />&ldquo;That&#39;ll never happen,&rdquo; he said, looking down and rubbing his eyes. &ldquo;Man, I didn&#39;t cry this much when they gave me all that time. Oh wow, man.&rdquo;<br /><br />Antione paused and looked over at some framed pictures of Mr. Joseph. &ldquo;Handsome cat, you know.&rdquo;<br /><br />Just like the Dos Equis commercial, Rick noted. &ldquo;His twin.&rdquo;<br /><br />As they inched their way back out to Antione&rsquo;s car, they talked about a nearby Harley shop, Antione&rsquo;s band and Life After Justice, his fledgling organization to provide transitional housing and services to exonerees.<br /><br />&quot;You have a CD?&quot;<br /><br />&quot;I can get you one.&quot;<br /><br />Outside, Antione held the Mr. Joseph&rsquo;s law degree to his chest. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m gonna guard this with my life.&rdquo;<br /><br />&ldquo;I know.&rdquo;<br /><br />They hugged.<br /><br />Through the car window, Antione hollered that he was headed to the bike shop Rick mentioned.<br /><br />&ldquo;Tell &lsquo;em Rick sent you,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;They don&rsquo;t know me. But tell &lsquo;em anyway!&rdquo;<br /><br />Antione nodded and waved.<br /><br /><strong>ALMOST A YEAR LATER</strong>, Antione hopped in his boss&rsquo; car to pick up some sub sandwiches and drinks for a staff meeting with parole agents from the Illinois Department of Corrections. He drove around the corner from the Howard Area Community Center when one of his commander friends called him.</p><p>He told him someone who identified himself as a police officer had stopped by the center. He had tipped them off that he had run Antione&rsquo;s plates and there was a warrant out for his arrest. For murder. Then the man left, the commander told Antione.</p><p>Toting sandwiches, cans of soda and bottles of water, Antione halted. &ldquo;Who is this guy?&rdquo;</p><p>He got back in the car, drove back to the center and from the parking lot, called a few attorney friends. After earning his certificate of innocence, Antione&rsquo;s record should have been cleared.</p><p>&ldquo;It was like déjà vu all over again,&rdquo; Antione said. &ldquo;Somebody again has taken the time out to lie and conspire to have me locked up.&rdquo;</p><p>It would turn out to be nothing. Soon, Antione would be assured after calling the police station, that no new warrant had crossed anyone&rsquo;s desk.</p><p>But in that moment, sitting in the parking lot of his workplace, huddled inside the car, Antione froze.</p><p>He worried about losing his job from this defamation. He worried about being hauled back to jail.</p><p>Should he go back inside? Should he run? When would this trial for his life ever end?</p><p>Antione got out of the car. His heart beat fast and strong. He walked to the door. Inside, he did not think of leaving.</p></p> Mon, 22 Sep 2014 13:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-antione-stops-running-110831 Exoneree Diaries: Waiting for Caine http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-waiting-caine-110773 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/james_0_0 - Copy_0_2.png" alt="" /><p><p><em>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s no real common denominator to say this is what makes an exoneree. Because we&rsquo;re all different. We all have different cases. We all come from different parts of the city. Different parts of the state. The only thing that we have in common is that we were all wrongfully accused and convicted.&rdquo;</em></p><p><strong>JAMES&rsquo; EMPLOYMENT AGENCY</strong> called him on a Friday and asked if he would want to work as a maintenance man at a nursing home in Chicago. It was a 9 to 5 gig, starting at $15 an hour. He&rsquo;d get a bump in pay if the facility decided to keep him. The downside would be coming from Indiana every day and wading through heavy Chicago traffic to get back home.</p><p>James had just signed a new lease for a house a few blocks from his son&rsquo;s family. And his girlfriend, Rena&rsquo;, had just transplanted her life from New Mexico to Indiana when he lost his job at the steel manufacturing plant. So, without any other money coming in, and with back child-support payments from his time in prison looming, he took the job.</p><p><strong>AN EMINEM SONG</strong> was playing in the background of the nearly empty Lincoln Park four-lane bowling alley.</p><p>Loyola University professor Laura Caldwell and her law students had organized a small celebration for exoneree Eric Caine who had received a $10 million settlement from a civil lawsuit the week before. Caine was among the more than 100 black men tortured by Chicago Police under former Commander Jon Burge. Caine&rsquo;s torture in 1986 led to a false confession that cost him 25 years behind bars.</p><p>&ldquo;I got this card for Eric!&rdquo; Laura said, waving it about, as they prepared for his arrival. &ldquo;What should we say?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I think something about closing this chapter of your case,&rdquo; offered Emily DeYoe, an adjunct professor for the Life After Innocence class and assistant public defender for Cook County.</p><p>Laura scribbled on the card.</p><p>As the small group of students waited for guests to arrive.</p><p>&ldquo;Antione wants to have a community garden at the Life After Justice house,&rdquo; Laura said.</p><p>&ldquo;Is there enough room for that?&rdquo; a student asked.</p><p>&ldquo;Who&rsquo;s been there?&rdquo; Laura looked around at her students. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m so bad at judging those things. He probably wants to put in two rows.&rdquo;</p><p>Algie Crivens was the first exoneree to arrive at the party. A bald man with light wispy eyebrows, he showed up in a shirt and tie, ready to bowl. He walked up to the bowling lane, ready to take on a law student, Derrick, who also worked as a fireman. One after the other, the guys thrust the bowling balls down the lane, each ending with a big crash. Crivens spun around after his turn, put his hands on his hips and took a deep breath. He untucked his shirt.</p><p>&ldquo;There we go!&rdquo; Crivens shouted with a big smile after bowling a strike.</p><p>An hour later, and still no Caine. Crivens had talked to him the previous week. &ldquo;He&rsquo;s riding on cloud nine,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Crivens was released in 2000, earning his certificate of innocence from the state a few years later. It took that long to find a decent job, picking up jobs here and there, living with his parents. He finally moved out and bought his own two-unit building in Calumet City, Ill. Crivens lived in one unit and rented out the other.</p><p>Servers brought out some heavy hors d&rsquo;oeuvres and set them to the side of the lanes.</p><p>&ldquo;This pizza&rsquo;s amazing,&rdquo; Derrick said, taking a bite after his turn.</p><p>Laura was the first woman to step up the lane to bowl. Gutter ball. She practiced, kicking her leg behind her like a tennis serve. Derrick gave her some pointers as she examined the other bowling balls, trying to find the right one.</p><p>Derrick slung a curve ball forward, hitting nine pins. Laura eyed the lane, nodded her head and tried again. Gutter.</p><p>&ldquo;It just crosses over!&rdquo; she yelled.</p><p>James, fresh off the clock, walked through the door with Rena&rsquo; and snuck up behind Laura.</p><p>&ldquo;Ahh! How are you?&rdquo; she exclaimed.</p><p>They hugged. Rena&rsquo; piped up, beaming. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m Rena&rsquo;, Jim&rsquo;s girlfriend,&rdquo; she said in a slightly raspy voice.</p><p>&ldquo;She just moved to Chicago!&rdquo; Laura said to the others.</p><p>&ldquo;Yeah, I lost my mind!&rdquo; Rena&rsquo; joked.</p><p>Rena&rsquo; told the story of how she and James met, through letters, as she was inquiring about prison correspondence services for a friend. Rena&rsquo; figured James was a safe bet because he was serving life sentences.</p><p>&ldquo;She&rsquo;s like, &lsquo;Sweet! He&rsquo;s in here forever!&rdquo; Laura laughed.</p><p>James told the group about his new job at the nursing home. The first day, he removed a refrigerator, repaired another, installed an air conditioner, started repairs on a John Deere lawn mower and worked on a weed whacker which had a spark plug with too much gas in it.</p><p>A law student asked Rena&rsquo; if she was a good bowler. Not since bowling for a physical education class in college.</p><p>&ldquo;I haven&rsquo;t bowled in a quarter of a century,&rdquo; James added, forgetting he had gone bowling with his kids shortly after his release in 2012.</p><p>Laura grabbed her phone to capture the moment on video.</p><p>James positioned himself, then pushed the ball down the lane. It hit the gutter about a third of the way.</p><p>&ldquo;Shit!&rdquo; he said under his breath, turning red. Rena&rsquo; cringed and smiled at the people watching.</p><p>His second try, the ball stayed straight, hitting two pins. Everyone cheered.</p><p>Looking down at the black, scuffed-up bowling ball, James smiled. Engraved on the top were the words &ldquo;Brunswick Black Beauty&rdquo; and &ldquo;J-I-M&rdquo; in three thin, spaced-out letters.</p><p>He showed the others, oddly proud of the coincidence.</p><p>They finished out the game and their snacks. Caine was still a no-show. Disappointed, they finally left.</p><p>Later, the group discovered that River Forest Police had arrested Caine. For months, Caine had felt targeted and harassed by police, according to David Protess in his column about the run-ins. This time the officer apprehended Caine for playing too loud of music in his car. Dashboard camera footage later revealed the music was coming from the squad car.</p></p> Tue, 09 Sep 2014 13:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-waiting-caine-110773 Exoneree Diaries: Jacques takes steps in the right direction http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-jacques-takes-steps-right-direction-110735 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/jaques_0_0_0_0_5.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>&ldquo;Everybody wants to be a part of something greater. At least I do.&rdquo;</em></p><p><strong>THE END OF THE YEAR</strong> brought more frustrations for Jacques. He was ready for a fresh start in 2014.</p><p>He had had some harsh words with his daughter when she called him explaining she needed $600 to repair the Infinity car he had given her. She asked him what she should do.</p><p>&ldquo;Take the bus!&rdquo; Jacques said.</p><p>He called the following morning to apologize. He told her it wasn&rsquo;t her fault; he had been upset with himself because he was cited for two tickets in one day &ndash; parking and speeding. He explained to her that he wasn&rsquo;t feeling that great about money. Or cars.</p><p>Jacques had been losing his temper at work too. A few episodes. And when he went to the holiday<br />party, after a long Thursday on the clock, he kicked back a couple. He hadn&rsquo;t eaten and was tired.</p><p>He threw up.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s why I don&rsquo;t drink,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>His friends at Northwestern, the people who worked on his case, were worried about him, so Jacques found his way to a therapist. Her office was nestled somewhere inside Chicago&rsquo;s labyrinth office and shopping space, the Merchandise Mart. They were to meet once a week on Tuesdays.</p><p>&ldquo;I knew I needed it,&rdquo; Jacques said. &ldquo;She&rsquo;s really accurate about a lot of things.&rdquo;</p><p>Jacques learned about &ldquo;misdirecting&rdquo; his anger. Soon, he would talk about how admitting you have a problem is the first step. He would learn about making healthy decisions.</p><p><br /><strong>SIX MONTHS LATER</strong>, the July sun lit up a softball park near Northwestern University&rsquo;s Chicago campus on a Friday afternoon. Law school students and a few exonerees were playing another team from a nearby school.</p><p>Jacques showed up in the early afternoon in his Northwestern delivery uniform to watch the game.</p><p>&ldquo;What&rsquo;s happening?&rdquo; Jacques said, side-hugging, chest-bumping and then back-slapping his longtime friend, fellow exoneree Juan Rivera, who had just been up to bat.</p><p>&ldquo;You on lunch break?&rdquo; someone said.</p><p>&ldquo;Lunch break?&rdquo; Jacques echoed, as if to ask &ldquo;what&rsquo;s a lunch break?&rdquo;</p><p>In fact, he had just wrapped up an 8-week break from work, having smashed his hand on the job.<br />He fractured and nearly broke his pinky finger, the type of injury that will put a delivery guy out of work for a bit.</p><p>&ldquo;Watch your hand!&rdquo; the supervisor had warned as they were moving a table.</p><p>Bam.</p><p>Jacques wore a cast for six weeks and went through physical therapy for another two weeks before returning to work.</p><p>During his time off, he learned about the professional social network LinkedIn.</p><p>&ldquo;I want to learn how to get in the LinkedIn thing.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;LinkedIn?&rdquo; someone watching the softball game asked.</p><p>&ldquo;This young lady, I want to try to get a hold of her,&rdquo; Jacques explained, collecting stares from his friends.</p><p>&ldquo;She&rsquo;s a nonprofit organization professional,&rdquo; he went on. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re trying to start a nonprofit organization.&rdquo;</p><p>Innocence Demands Justice would be the name, Jacques decided. He wanted to save the innocent &ndash; or at least try.</p><p>&ldquo;Maybe she can assist us, help guide us.&rdquo;</p><p>Jacques paused to watch the game. He liked hanging out at the park. A month earlier, he had stopped by Chicago&rsquo;s annual Puerto Rican Day parade. When some friends invited him to join, he was hesitant.</p><p>The parade was known for its gang presence. His buddies assured him the old guys wouldn&rsquo;t be out. Just some new Latin King kids. It&rsquo;s not like it used to be.</p><p>After taking in the parade, they went over to the old neighborhood in Humboldt Park. Police cars were all around.</p><p>&ldquo;What happened?&rdquo; Jacques asked.</p><p>Some people had been shot, he was told.</p><p>He left.</p><p>Jacques avoided going out in public with his family. He didn&rsquo;t feel it was safe.</p><p>He also didn&rsquo;t like being recognized around the neighborhood. Did people remember his face from the news of his wrongful conviction &ndash; or from his past life in the gang?</p><p>Jacques didn&rsquo;t like being left to wonder.</p><p>&ldquo;See ya!&rdquo; he told his buddies.</p></p> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 15:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-jacques-takes-steps-right-direction-110735 Exoneree Diaries: Making the most of second chances, together http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-making-most-second-chances-together-110733 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/antione_0_0_1_2.png" alt="" /><p><p><em>&ldquo;Living in a cage like an animal, you never forget it, so I would never let it wear me down because I shed myself of the burden. Being in prison and thinking of other people of being in that same situation that don&rsquo;t deserve it -- it&rsquo;s hard for me.&rdquo;</em><br /><br /><strong>OFFICE HOURS WERE OVER</strong>, and the weekly community meeting was soon to start. Antione sat hunched over at the front desk of the Howard Area Community Center, writing a letter to an inmate. He didn&rsquo;t know the guy.</p><p>Every week, about 10 letters would arrive for Antione from state prisons where he had visited and given talks to soon-to-be parolees. Inside the prisons, Antione would introduce himself and encourage guys to get in touch when they needed help upon release.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not a letter writer,&rdquo; Antione said. &ldquo;No novellas.&rdquo;</p><p>He tried to write back because most of his own letters from prison went unanswered. People wouldn&rsquo;t respond, and Antione would write them again and again. During his incarceration, the prison would give inmates a few stamps a month.</p><p>His former &ldquo;cellie&rdquo; &ndash; Dennis Mixon, a guy who lived in his four-person dorm at Stateville Correctional Center &ndash; also wrote to him. Antione knew his &ldquo;rappies&rdquo; (the other guys on his case) from Pontiac Correctional Center, but it wasn&rsquo;t until he and Dennis bunked in the same room and realized their families knew each other that they became friends. Mixon was a quiet and pensive.</p><p>&ldquo;He know that I&rsquo;m not going to write no letter,&rdquo; Antione laughed. &ldquo;Dennis was a writer. He loved to write. He used to write a lot of stories.&rdquo;</p><p>Antione preferred their phone calls. Sometimes he would call Mixon&rsquo;s mom for updates and messages. Lately, the messages hadn&rsquo;t been good.</p><p>Mixon had a trouble with his kidneys and no money for a transplant. He had had a stroke and difficulty using one of his feet. When he was at Pontiac, the prison staff couldn&rsquo;t put shackles on his legs because they were so swollen.</p><p>Mixon&rsquo;s mom, a woman in her seventies, relied on other people to drive her a few times a year to the prison. She never learned highway driving, and she wouldn&rsquo;t go in bad weather, not after hitting some black ice on the way to Tamms Correctional Center one year. The prison closed in 2013.</p><p>&ldquo;I try not to be angry,&rdquo; Nedra Mixon said. &ldquo;Their plan is for him never to come out of there. I know Daniel Taylor because their trials were back to back. I thought they were both coming home. But neither one of them did.&rdquo;</p><p>Except that Daniel eventually did come home in 2013. Daniel, one of the eight accused (Mixon included) in a double murder in 1992, spent more than two decades of a life sentence behind bars. He had confessed to the crimes as a teen, even though it was impossible for him to have committed them. He was in police custody for disorderly conduct at the time of the shooting.</p><p>In his own case, Antione never confessed and always maintained his innocence. But he describes the phenomenon of false confessions as something like what happens in a kennel.</p><p>&ldquo;Chihuahuas. Poodles. You&rsquo;re all in cages, and you hear what&rsquo;s happening, instilling fear through the kennel,&rdquo; he said, mimicking the cries with his hands.</p><p>Daniel wasn&rsquo;t the only to confess in his case. The seven others confessed as well. Five were convicted. Eventually all were freed &ndash; except Mixon.</p><p>In prison, Mixon&rsquo;s communicated with prosecutors and journalists. His words damned him, placing himself at the crime scene while clearing the other guys. This account corroborated the innocence of the others, while further sealing his own fate.</p><p>But Antione, unaware of the particulars of what Mixon had said, took up his cause. He peddled Mixon&rsquo;s case around Chicago to anyone who would listen. He talked to lawyers, journalists and innocence crusaders. When he attended the Innocence Network conference every year, Antione would bend many ears about his friend.</p><p>&ldquo;They always tell us if we think or know of someone who may be innocent, let&rsquo;s look into it,&rdquo; Antione said. &ldquo;I truly believe that Dennis had nothing to do with this murder. Knowing him, I just don&rsquo;t see it. I was in prison with a thousand murderers and rapists and killers. You can tell just about who is who.&rdquo;</p><p>What Mixon was guilty of, Antione believes, is having a drug addiction. The kind that would make you &ldquo;say your mother killed Kennedy just to get out of a situation.&rdquo;<br /><br /><strong>A FEW MINUTES</strong> before 6:30 in the evening, Antione set his letter aside and told everyone in the computer lab to take a seat and power off the screens. Chairs lined the long room and wrapped around the corner. The room was full of parolees, kids and parents from the community for Antione&rsquo;s weekly &ldquo;Overcomers&rdquo; meeting.</p><p>The younger folks piled in the Howard Area Community Center to use the computers. No internet at home. The door was open to them. They liked to hang out.</p><p>&ldquo;You smell like a stank cigarette,&rdquo; Antione told one guy before starting the meeting and turning to the group. &ldquo;Anybody been watching the news? Nobody been watching the news? Because this news is all about y&rsquo;all.&rdquo;</p><p>Antione talked about new policies that he thought would hurt people on parole. He rambled on to other topics &ndash; finding jobs and taking responsibility for one&rsquo;s family.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s easy to make a baby, but it&rsquo;s hard to be a father,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Antione had his favorite sayings to motivate the group each week &ndash; &ldquo;a closed mouth truly don&rsquo;t get fed&rdquo; and &ldquo;when you settle for less, you always get less that you settle for.&rdquo;</p><p>And he often mentioned drugs and alcohol &ndash; life&rsquo;s vices that did not tempt him &ndash; as examples of what holds people back.</p><p>&ldquo;Y&rsquo;all listening?&rdquo; he hollered. &ldquo;This is for the grown folk. Not the little kids. &lsquo;Cuz some of these kids got more responsibility than us grown folk.&rdquo;</p><p>As Antione spoke, some men looked straight down. Others never broke eye contact. Gleefully, the kids joined the grown men in the closing cheer:</p><p>Put your hand in my hand, together can make it.<br />Put your hand in my hand, together can make it.<br />Put your hand in my hand, together can make it.<br />Guess what y&#39;all? We made it.</p><p>After releasing hands, the men and children formed a line for free haircuts. Antione headed up to the front where a barber who went by Mr. Antonio was already clipping a man&rsquo;s hair in an office chair.</p><p>&ldquo;How you want the sides?&rdquo; he asked.</p><p>Antione nudged the man getting his hair cut. &ldquo;How&rsquo;d you get in the chair first, man?&rdquo;</p><p>The guy shrugged at Antione as clumps of his hair fell on the faded blue carpeting. House music started to fill the room.</p><p>Antione grabbed a hair clipper and started in on another man&rsquo;s head, going quickly in different directions, as the man winced. Antione hated baldies. He didn&rsquo;t like touching the skin on their heads.</p><p>&ldquo;Hey there, can I get two regular haircuts? What&rsquo;s that $20?&rdquo; a lady busted in with her two little boys. She was joking.</p><p>&ldquo;No, it&rsquo;s 50 cents apiece!&rdquo; Antione smiled.</p><p>&ldquo;Nah, y&rsquo;all ain&rsquo;t worth it!&rdquo; she laughed.</p><p>Mr. Antonio took a soft brush and swept it across the forehead of the man in his chair, who was perfectly still, mouth relaxed, eyes fixed on the ground.</p><p>&ldquo;Do y&rsquo;all do designs?&rdquo; one of the little boys asked as soon as his mother left to run errands.</p><p>&ldquo;Does your mom allow you to have designs in your hair?&rdquo;</p><p>Antione worked to finish up the job. Peering through his glasses, he trimmed the man&rsquo;s nose hair.</p><p>He leaned back, eyes closed, as Antione carefully, but quickly cut the errant hairs away.</p><p>&ldquo;The kids gotta go. It&rsquo;s late,&rdquo; Antione said to one of his mentees who was sweeping up and sat down ahead of the line for a haircut.</p><p>A third barber emerged and started trimming the back of one of the little boys&rsquo; heads. The young one leaned forward, his eyes darting up to see the other haircuts in action.</p><p>&ldquo;Hey, call your mom and tell her to bring a bologna sandwich back!&rdquo; Antione said to the other little boy who was patiently waiting his turn. The kid didn&rsquo;t seem to get the joke.</p><p>Mr. Antonio propped the younger brother on a booster seat atop an office chair. The boy looked down, eyelashes full and bashful as Mr. Antonio clipped the cape around his white t-shirt.</p><p>The sky had turned dark when the boys&rsquo; mother returned with some shopping bags. Mr. Antonio finished cutting around one of the boys&rsquo; ears as the other brother played with coins on a side table.</p><p>&ldquo;25-50-75-100 cents!&rdquo; he exclaimed, revealing a gap-toothed smile and looking up for his mother&rsquo;s approval.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s four quarters,&rdquo; she assured him. &ldquo;Where&rsquo;s your jacket?&rdquo;</p><p>She turned to Antione. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ll come up next Wednesday, and y&rsquo;all give me a press &lsquo;n curl!&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a good thing,&rdquo; Antione nodded. &ldquo;You know, not everybody can afford haircuts.&rdquo;</p><p>&quot;Did you say thank you?&quot; she said turning to her little boys. They nodded uh-huh.</p><p>Mr. Antonio headed out behind them too.</p><p>&quot;I appreciate you coming to volunteer man,&rdquo; Antione said. &ldquo;I appreciate it man, I really do.&rdquo;</p><p>There were a few more guys left to go before Antione could close up shop.</p><p>In a few weeks, he would have a grill out for the kids and put out some hot dogs. He knew they were hungry. Hungry for food and hungry for leadership.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know it all, but being able to come here after what I went through, [it&rsquo;s] so you don&rsquo;t have to go through that,&rdquo; Antione remarked. &ldquo;Because not everyone get a second chance.&rdquo;</p></p> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-making-most-second-chances-together-110733 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