WBEZ | Exoneree Diaries http://www.wbez.org/series/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 Exoneree Diaries: Justice moves slowly for Jacques http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-justice-moves-slowly-jacques-110858 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/jaques_0_0_0_0_6.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>&ldquo;They owe me an apology. Because for them to file charges, they have to view everything. And they knew. They knew that I didn&rsquo;t do this crime. But they continued. But they went on with it. But they prosecuted me for it. They knew. They knew.&rdquo;</em></p><p><strong>IN A NARROW, BLUE-CARPETED COURTROOM</strong>, Jacques&rsquo; lawyer, famed Chicago attorney Jon Loevy, paced, bespectacled in thick frames, his beat-up Altra &ldquo;zero-drop&rdquo; running shoes barely making a sound &ndash; except in contrast to his sharp gray suit.</p><p>&ldquo;All rise!&rdquo;</p><p>A routine hearing, Jacques&rsquo; case against the city and the late 80s gang crimes detectives was now more than two years old.</p><p>Jacques didn&rsquo;t need to show up at hearings like these. He relied on his lawyers for the highlights and carried on his work, physically exhausting as it was, running deliveries while taking care of his mother, who had been hospitalized for a host of medical issues.</p><p>His lawsuit against the city argued that notorious Chicago Police detective Reynaldo Guevara, along with others, conspired to fabricate false evidence in the case, including manipulating the only eyewitness to the shooting &ndash; a 12-year-old kid named Orlando Lopez.</p><p>Jacques wasn&rsquo;t allowed to get in touch with Orlando. Now a family man living in Ohio, Orlando recanted his more than 20-year-old testimony against Jacques.</p><p>&ldquo;I wanted to let him know it&rsquo;s OK,&rdquo; Jacques said. &ldquo;It wasn&rsquo;t his fault. He was a child at the time.&rdquo;</p><p>The fill-in judge, Mary Rowland, did some basic housekeeping on the case: was this ready, was that ready. She asked the legal teams if they had finished the lineup project yet. The evidence was intended to prepare for trial arguments about whether there had been an undisclosed second lineup in the case, as Orlando had remembered.</p><p>But the matter at hand on the late August day was to determine if Jacques&rsquo; lawyers would get the chance to check out old police files. They wanted to nail down what they suspected to be true &ndash; that for years, Chicago Police had kept separate street files from its regular files when investigating a case, never to be turned over to a defendant&rsquo;s trial lawyers. If true, it could amount to constitutional violations spanning many cases, Jacques&rsquo; included.</p><p>&ldquo;Part of what you&rsquo;re saying is are there documents, notes, writings mostly by gang crime unit people that have not been produced, that were not produced to Mr. Rivera during the criminal case?&rdquo; asked Rowland.</p><p>Representing the City of Chicago, Eileen Ellen Rosen said she had already checked, and there wasn&rsquo;t anything of value to the case.</p><p>&ldquo;Gang crimes doesn&#39;t exist anymore,&rdquo; she said matter-of-factly. &ldquo;CPD does not know of any, doesn&#39;t require or maintain any files that are unique to gang crimes.&rdquo;</p><p>But the city&rsquo;s old gang crimes files &ndash; dozens of file cabinets &ndash; could not be found. Loevy wanted access to a room at Area North headquarters, believing the gang files would be there.</p><p>&ldquo;You&#39;re telling me that there&#39;s no need to let Mr. Loevy to go down there and look for these documents?&rdquo; the judge asked.</p><p>Rosen argued the process could take years and wasn&rsquo;t doable.</p><p>&ldquo;What&rsquo;s missing are the notes,&rdquo; Loevy insisted to Rowland. &ldquo;The gang officers are still operating in the Jones Wild West. Those gang files existed. They have not been located. They are just simply missing.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;We&#39;re proposing going to a room that has file cabinets and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of files and weeding through and going through the paper and going back to what, 1960, to 1962, then based on a hunch or whatever, and then what?&rdquo; Rosen said.</p><p>Rowland granted the request with some limits, satisfying neither side of the case. Rosen, she decided, would get a first pass at the room, checking &ldquo;every nook and cranny,&rdquo; and then would report back so Loevy could review anything she uncovered.</p><p>&ldquo;We had hoped that we would be part of the search process,&rdquo; Loevy chimed in. &ldquo;There&#39;s no downside to letting us observe it. Maybe we don&#39;t touch anything? Maybe we just look over her shoulder? What is the downside to having us observe the search?&rdquo;</p><p>The judge paused, hesitant. &ldquo;My thought in having her down there is so your search could be more efficient,&rdquo; she answered.</p><p>&ldquo;This is an important search and it seems weird that we wouldn&#39;t be there,&rdquo; Loevy reasoned.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not weird,&rdquo; Rosen snapped at him. &ldquo;There&#39;s no reason that anybody needs to be looking over my shoulder. I&rsquo;m an officer of the court!&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;We would like to participate! We could go faster!&rdquo; Loevy negotiated.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s no reason they can&rsquo;t take my word for it,&rdquo; Rosen told the judge.</p><p>&ldquo;We could help! What&#39;s the downside?!&rdquo; Loevy volleyed for Rowland&rsquo;s attention.</p><p>&ldquo;We don&#39;t want other people rummaging through the files,&rdquo; Rosen said.</p><p>The judge cut in the back and forth. &ldquo;This is my main concern. If there is a single piece of paper about this case, I want it in his hands.&rdquo;</p><p>Rowland offered to go herself and check it out, collecting chuckles from the room. But Rosen, she decided for the second time, would get to go alone to the file storage room.</p><p>&ldquo;Can we get some kind of index? Get some kind of record?&rdquo; Loevy asked, grasping for a win.</p><p>The judge proposed sticky notes to keep things straight.</p><p>The hearing had stretched later than anticipated. Loevy thanked Rowland for the allowance. She nodded and called up the next case on the docket.</p><p>&ldquo;Sorry to keep you all waiting,&rdquo; Rowland said to a defendant wearing a prison uniform.</p><p>The defendant stepped up the bench. &quot;Fascinating, judge,&quot; he said.</p><p>Loevy and Rosen each cracked a smile and left.</p><p>The case was far from over. Soon, Rosen would need to depose Jacques.</p><p>Once again, he would tell his story.</p></p> Fri, 26 Sep 2014 07:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-justice-moves-slowly-jacques-110858 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