WBEZ | criminal justice http://www.wbez.org/tags/criminal-justice 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: 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: '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: Journey to a 'Life after Justice' home http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-journey-life-after-justice-home-110389 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Capture_11.PNG" alt="" /><p><p><em>&ldquo;Being an exoneree you have no opportunity for training, you have no programs set in place for you. Programs are not available for exonerees as of right now, but there are plans, and we pushing it through to try to make things happen for exonerees today. But when I came home there were no programs at all for the exonerees, so that&rsquo;s one of the things we really fighting for with Life After Justice and Life After Innocence.&rdquo;</em></p><p><strong>&ldquo;ANTIONE CAN BE A LITTLE BIT</strong> of a dreamer,&rdquo; says Brad Lorden. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s one of the things I love most about him.&rdquo;</p><p>In 2012, Brad was finishing up as a law and business student at Loyola University when he put together a small business plan for Life After Justice, the organization Antione and fellow exoneree Jarrett Adams had talked about starting.&nbsp;</p><p>Antione&rsquo;s vision had long been in place. It started ten years earlier in those first steps of freedom outside of Cook County Jail as he wore another man&rsquo;s clothes without any place to go.</p><p>For Jarrett, an incoming law student, it was the not-so-distant memories of sleeping on his mother&rsquo;s sofa and, like Antione, being turned down for jobs because of his incarceration for a wrongful conviction.</p><p>The pair wanted to help other exonerees become self-sufficient, first by giving them a place to lay their heads at night in a residence shared with other exonerees &ndash; the Life After Justice house. Job training would come later, when the exonerees were ready, Antione and Jarrett thought.</p><p>But how the organization would become self-sustaining was another question, especially in a house that would incur expenses like property taxes and supplies.</p><p>So Brad and some business classmates took on the project. At the end of the semester, they presented their business plan to Antione and Jarrett at Loyola&rsquo;s Water Tower campus in Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;They were excited to see it becoming more of a reality,&rdquo; Brad, now a board member at Life After Justice, remembers. &ldquo;They were both moved that we put so much time and energy into it.&rdquo;</p><p>The students proposed that Life After Justice provide a grace period to exonerees first entering the house where they could live rent free. Then, after a set period of time, the house would expect them to contribute back through a particular job. The exoneree could supply a small amount of rent to help pay the monthly expenses of the house.</p><p>They also figured that there might not always be a steady stream of exonerees coming into the house, so Life After Justice could then open up the place to parolees. This was a natural move for Antione, who mentored former prisoners for his day job at the community center.</p><p>After the students finished their presentation, the entire class rose to its feet upon learning Jarrett would be entering law school in the fall.</p><p>&ldquo;It was nice,&rdquo; Jarrett says of the standing ovation. &ldquo;It was one of them things that made me realize just how far I had [come].&rdquo;<br /><br />About eight months later, the organization was given 501(c) 3 tax-status approval. Jarrett had his first semester of law school under his belt, collecting media nods, and Antione kept fixing up a cousin&rsquo;s place while setting his sights on another potential property for the Life After Justice house.</p><p><strong>&ldquo;IS THIS MR. DAY?</strong>&rdquo; Jarrett asked into the speaker phone, pretending to be a telemarketer as law professor Laura Caldwell stood next to him, fiddling around with the conference call set up as Brad walked in the room to join.</p><p>&ldquo;Yes, it is.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;How are you doing today, sir?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Doing well,&rdquo; Antione said, tentatively.</p><p>Jarrett burst out laughing: &ldquo;I&rsquo;m just messing! C&rsquo;mon man, you know my voice.&rdquo;</p><p>Jarrett, coming from work, was dressed in a purple and white checkered shirt, topped with a black sweater &ndash; business casual to his classmates&rsquo; plain casual student garb. As students settled in around a conference table, Jarrett sat at the head of it.&nbsp; Laura&rsquo;s weekly, workshop-style class engaged law students in a clinic to aid exonerees for her organization, Life After Innocence. One of the class projects was to provide support to Life After Justice.</p><p>Jarrett had become the face of Loyola&rsquo;s law school, Life After Innocence and now his own organization. At times he just wanted to be known as Jarrett, rather than an exoneree-turned-law student, but he also felt a responsibility to share his story to those who would listen. Laura showed him a picture of himself for a story about finishing his first year of law school.</p><p>&ldquo;My teeth are white!&rdquo; he laughed.</p><p>Jarrett was ready to get to work. On the class agenda: a planning call with Antione to discuss next steps for Life After Justice.</p><p>On the line, Antione could be heard still at work, preparing for his Wednesday night support group for ex-offenders.</p><p>&ldquo;Let the man in the wheelchair sign in first,&rdquo; Antione said to the support group attendees, as Laura&rsquo;s class listened to his conversation. &ldquo;Everyone sign in.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;He&rsquo;s the king of multi-tasking,&rdquo; Laura chuckled.</p><p>The class waited for him to wrap up, chatting and Google-chatting, akin to passing notes, across the conference table.</p><p>Antione returned to the conference call. They talked through what logo to pick &ndash; should they go with the one showing prison bars or with something else more forward-thing, they asked &ndash; then moved on discuss the status of the house. Antione was juggling two properties. One of them might become the house, at least temporarily.</p><p>&ldquo;We got to start somewhere,&rdquo; Antione said. &ldquo;We can start downtown in Trump Towers for all I care.&rdquo;</p><p>The students loaded Antione with questions: How long should exonerees stay before paying rent? How many units will be in the house? How many beds?</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve got a roomful of lawyers here, so we&rsquo;re just making sure we&rsquo;re dotting the I&rsquo;s and crossing the T&rsquo;s,&rdquo; Laura assured Antione.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m definitely not frustrated,&rdquo; Antione said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m excited!&rdquo;</p><p>The class went through potential zoning issues and real estate questions. Jarrett interrupted the discussion and reminded everyone of the mission.</p><p>&ldquo;My goal is to pull other people through the window I came through,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We win if we have one Antione Day.&rdquo;</p><p>Less than two weeks later, on a windy April day, Jarrett, Antione and Laura (and her dog Shafer), posed for a photo in front of a boarded-up brick home in Chicago&rsquo;s Austin neighborhood, close to Antione&rsquo;s childhood home. Antione wore sunglasses to shield his eyes from the gusty cold. Laura&rsquo;s red hair whipped around as she held Shafer close. Shafer wore a scarf.</p><p>Jarrett captioned the photo in big cursive letters, time-stamping it and sharing it on social media: &ldquo;Life After Justice House.&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 20 Jun 2014 15:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-journey-life-after-justice-home-110389 Exoneree Diaries: Antione's jam band http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-antiones-jam-band-110388 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/antione_0_0_1.png" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>&ldquo;People really don&rsquo;t understand it when you see a guy and he&rsquo;s not behind a bar or he&rsquo;s not in a blue uniform or a gold uniform, and you&rsquo;re just free and you able to socialize and somebody not tell you can&rsquo;t talk to him. It&rsquo;s great. It&rsquo;s a family. You know? We are a family.&rdquo;</em></p><p><strong>ANTIONE HAD A HEAD COLD,</strong> and his voice was hoarse. He bundled himself in a navy blue pullover on the chilly February night.</p><p>He was set to go on stage within minutes at the $100-a-ticket event at Buddy Guy&rsquo;s Legends, a famous Chicago blues club, for the Illinois Bar Foundation&rsquo;s annual Battle of the Bands fundraiser.</p><p>Feasting on trays of barbecue and an open bar, the after-work crowd was starting to feel good &ndash; lawyers, judges and law students. A handful of exonerees attended, including James Kluppelberg, who stood toward the side of the hall, finding it difficult to carry on a conversation over the chatter and noise.</p><p>The roster of dueling bands consisted of a couple ensembles of lawyers and judges with legal pun names: The Objections and DisBard. But Antione&rsquo;s band had a simple name and premise: Exoneree Band, formerly incarcerated and exonerated guys. The group was one of two bands Antione liked to jam with from time to time. Antione and his buddy Raymond Towler were two of the Exoneree Band regulars, playing at other fundraisers and events.</p><p>Towler lived in Ohio where he spent almost 30 years of life sentence behind bars for a rape and kidnapping that he did not commit. In May 2010, a judge ordered his release, choking back tears. Towler was 24 when he was wrongfully convicted, and 52 years old when he won his freedom. At Buddy Guy&rsquo;s, a thick gray beard covered Towler&rsquo;s face as he tuned up his guitar while his girlfriend shot video from a handheld camera, standing mid-crowd.</p><p>The president of the Illinois Bar Foundation took the stage and called on Laura Caldwell, who jumped up and took the microphone to introduce the exonerees.</p><p>&ldquo;Raymond Towler, who served almost 30 years,&rdquo; Laura began, pausing as the crowd clapped.<br />&ldquo;Antione Day, who served 10 years for a murder he didn&rsquo;t commit.&rdquo;</p><p>Exoneree Band opened with &ldquo;Mustang Sally&rdquo;, collecting yelps from the crowd. Antione introduced the next song, shaking his head and apologizing for his weak voice that he had lost three days earlier.&nbsp; The band had only practiced for four hours, he told the crowd, as guitar chords lightly strummed, filling the empty space between songs.</p><p>&ldquo;They call it stormy Monday, Tuesday&rsquo;s just as bad,&rdquo; Antione sang softly. His voice registered just above a whisper, and he played the drums. &ldquo;Lord, and Wednesday&rsquo;s worse, and Thursday&rsquo;s all so sad.&rdquo;</p><p>Antione took a break on the vocals as the band played an instrumental number. Towler had written the song for a friend still on the inside.</p><p>&ldquo;For a guy who didn&rsquo;t get out of jail,&rdquo; Antione told the crowd.</p><p>By the end of the set, Antione had warmed up his voice and started to smile, feeling the music. He clicked his drumsticks to kick off the next song. The guitarists weren&rsquo;t sure when to come in, but Antione didn&rsquo;t let up, clicking away until they joined him.</p><p>Towler mouthed to the bassist, &ldquo;Wrong chord.&rdquo; Antione chimed in, his voice gaining strength to Otis Redding&rsquo;s song, &ldquo;Sittin&rsquo; on the Dock of the Bay.&rdquo;</p><p>The cheers masked the cracks in Antione&rsquo;s voice as it grew louder and stronger by the final song. &ldquo;Glory, Hallelujah!&rdquo; he sang, wrapping up the more than half-hour set.</p><p>The host took the stage again, shouting above the audience&rsquo;s applause: &ldquo;Let&rsquo;s hear it for the Exonerees!&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 20 Jun 2014 14:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-antiones-jam-band-110388 Police records show Chicago man tried to register before he was arrested for failing to register http://www.wbez.org/news/police-records-show-chicago-man-tried-register-he-was-arrested-failing-register-110248 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Williams house.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">On February 18th of this year, a man named Byron Williams went to Chicago police headquarters to register as a sex offender, as the law requires. He was turned away because the registration office was too busy that day. Ten days later he was arrested for failing to register.</p><p dir="ltr">According to police records reviewed by WBEZ, Chicago police turned away registrants 601 times in just the first three months of this year. It&rsquo;s an issue WBEZ has been reporting on and you can read our previous stories <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-police-fail-register-sex-offenders-601-times-just-three-months-110236">here</a> and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/crowded-chicago-police-office-forces-sex-offenders-violate-parole-109798">here</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Back to Byron Williams, I met him in mid-February outside police headquarters where he was nervously waiting to get into the criminal registration office to register as a sex offender. I had spent several days in the line reporting on the strange process people in Chicago have to navigate as they try to register. They spend hours in line at CPD headquarters and then are regularly turned away because police are too busy.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;This is like my seventh or eighth day coming trying to register, and each day I come, and then they cut the line off and tell us you got to come back another day and I work every day and I can&rsquo;t make it here early in the morning,&rdquo; said Williams, as he shifted back and forth on his feet trying to stay warm (This was February and the almost exclusively male registrants had waited outside for hours and hours).</p><p dir="ltr">Williams told me he worked as a security guard from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, which made it impossible to get to the registration office.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;They don&rsquo;t do it on the weekends so you can&rsquo;t come on the weekends, and I actually just changed my work schedule, I switched it just so I can be able to make sure I make my registration, but I still can&rsquo;t register!&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">One day, when I waited with sex offenders trying to register, an officer came out and told everyone to line up against the wall. I moved to the wall along with the rest of the group. The officer told the men that the police wouldn&rsquo;t be able to register them. I asked her what the issue was. Angrily, she said she didn&rsquo;t have time to explain it to me.</p><p dir="ltr">She wrote down the names of the men who were in line on a criminal registration log but she told them they could still be arrested. After writing down a few names she looked at me apologetically, and seemingly exasperated, perhaps overworked, she told me that the office was at capacity and that&rsquo;s why everyone would have to come back another day.</p><p dir="ltr">WBEZ has reviewed the criminal registration logs kept by police and found the department turned men away 601 times in the first three months of this year. It means the police don&rsquo;t know where the sex offenders are until they come back to register, if they bother coming back at all.</p><p dir="ltr">Williams says his boss allowed him to switch shifts with someone else so he could register, but he says he keeps getting turned away, &ldquo;and my boss is like okay you need to make something happen but everytime I get up to close by they cut it off and say we can&rsquo;t register, you got to come back the next day. I&rsquo;m explaining that to my boss, but he&rsquo;s understanding but he&rsquo;s not understanding and I&rsquo;m like at risk of losing my job and you know how hard it is for a sex offender to find a job? Are you kidding me?&rdquo; said Williams.</p><p dir="ltr">Police records show that Williams was at the registry office on February 18th and 19th and turned away both days. On February 23rd the sticker on his license plate expired. On February 28th he was pulled over by police because of the expired sticker. (He also had a cover on his license plate obscuring it and was driving on a suspended driver&rsquo;s license.)</p><p dir="ltr">Police ran his name. According to the arrest report the name check revealed that Williams was quote, &ldquo;a registered sex offender who was overdue in registering.&rdquo; Since then Williams has been in the Cook County Jail, where it costs taxpayers $52,000 a year to house each inmate.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;What are they expected to do? Come back the next day and stand in line again? &nbsp;People can&rsquo;t go every day of their life and await the same fate!&rdquo; said Herb Goldberg, the attorney representing Williams in his case. He says Williams is looking at a long sentence.</p><p>&ldquo;He&rsquo;s basically facing possibly six years to thirty years for failing to register in a situation where, I believe, he did make valid three attempts to register and was turned away,&rdquo; said Goldberg. &ldquo;And filling the penitentiary up with more people for these types of violations isn&rsquo;t doing anybody any good.&rdquo;</p><p>For months, WBEZ has been seeking an interview with Police Supt. Garry McCarthy to discuss the issues with the criminal registration office. For months McCarthy has refused, and there&rsquo;s been no explanation as to why the media-savvy police chief can&rsquo;t discuss this with WBEZ. In an emailed statement CPD spokesman Adam Collins says the department is planning an expansion of the criminal registration office and construction should be done by August, which should increase efficiency. We&rsquo;d like to talk to McCarthy about that as well, but he continues to refuse.</p></p> Wed, 28 May 2014 20:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/police-records-show-chicago-man-tried-register-he-was-arrested-failing-register-110248 Commentary: Is the exoneree movement leaving women behind? http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/commentary-exoneree-movement-leaving-women-behind-110206 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Jennifer Del Prete_photo by Tia Pearl Del Prete.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The innocence movement has largely left women behind. While men and women count themselves among the lawyers and crusaders who free the innocent, exonerated American women are few &ndash; 111 in all.</p><p>Women tally fewer than eight percent of the 1,368 known U.S. exonerations listed in the National Registry of Exonerations. So far this year, 32 men have been exonerated and only five women. The gap last year was even greater: 81 men and nine women.</p><p>To be sure, fewer women enter prison than men. The Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that women make up less than 7 percent of the prison population.&nbsp; But for offenses where the stakes of innocence are higher&mdash;violent crimes that typically carry longer sentences&mdash;they are more evenly distributed between men and women. In 2011, 37 percent of women prisoners and 54 percent of men prisoners were serving time for violent offenses.</p><p>While most exonerations involve a crime where someone else is responsible, this often does not hold true in women&rsquo;s cases. For the majority of female exonerations, no crime occurred in the case at all. Many wrongfully convicted women are simply guilty of being present when something went wrong. And proving their innocence is another matter. Unlike hundreds of men&rsquo;s cases, DNA evidence rarely signals a woman&rsquo;s innocence, playing a role in only seven known female cases.</p><p>In 2011, I researched cases for the Medill Justice Project, a journalism organization at Northwestern University where students investigate potentially wrongful convictions. The project has contributed to the exonerations of several prisoners &ndash; all male.</p><p>Out of the hundreds of letters I received from prisoners seeking help, women penned a few of them. Their cases would grip me.</p><p>One day I was talking to a lawyer about his former client, a male prisoner claiming innocence. The case wasn&rsquo;t very strong, he told me. I asked if there was someone whose case I should consider instead.</p><p>&ldquo;Jennifer Del Prete.&rdquo;</p><p>She was a suburban Chicago mother of two serving a 20-year sentence for murder.</p><p>When the lawyer told me hers was a shaken baby case, I cringed. Our project had a policy not to take such cases. They pose many challenges &ndash; the topic of alleged baby murder being foremost. Difficult to investigate, they hinge on medical evidence, science and rivaling expert witnesses. But given the growing skepticism around criminal convictions based on shaken baby syndrome as a diagnosis, I proceeded.</p><p>I reached one of Del Prete&rsquo;s lawyers by phone. She immediately told me: &ldquo;This is the case that keeps me up at night.&quot;</p><p>After vetting her case further, I pushed our project to investigate. Months later, a team of students were assigned to it. They filed public records requests and sought medical evidence. Now, about two years later, Del Prete, 43, has returned to her children.</p><p>Released April 30 in a rare order, she is free on bond while a state appeal persists. This comes in the wake of a 97-page ruling in January in which a federal judge wrote no reasonable jury would have found Del Prete of murder had all the evidence been known today.</p><p>The key evidence in Del Prete&rsquo;s case was a piece of paper: a 2003 letter that had never been turned over to her lawyers. In the note, a police detective warned the medical director who examined the infant (she later became the prosecution&rsquo;s expert witness) that the forensic pathologist had significant doubts about shaken baby syndrome. The letter was buried in a hefty package of police records. I took a first pass at the stack, halting when I read the letter.</p><p>It became clear that Del Prete, like many other wrongfully convicted women, was the victim of a tunnel-vision investigation turned situational prosecution. Since her trial, medical evidence has shown the 3 &frac12;-month-old under her care had pre-existing conditions mimicking shaken baby syndrome.</p><p>Del Prete now awaits exoneration. She joins a sorority of other wrongfully convicted women who have carved out a space for themselves in the innocence community. The nascent Women&rsquo;s Project, part of the flagship Center on Wrongful Convictions in Chicago, exclusively represents women prisoners and monitors cases across the country.</p><p>Earlier this year, the project hosted the largest gathering of female exonerees, many mothers or caretakers. In more than half of known female exonerations, the women were convicted of killing a family member or loved one. Kristine Bunch, an Indiana mother exonerated of murdering her 3-year-old son after an accidental home trailer fire, put it this way: &ldquo;As soon as you walk in those doors, you&rsquo;re labeled a baby killer.&rdquo;</p><p>For 10 years, Del Prete has suffered this label. But the label that matters the most remains. She is the woman whose case keeps people up at night.</p></p> Tue, 20 May 2014 12:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/commentary-exoneree-movement-leaving-women-behind-110206 Q&A with Sister Helen Prejean http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/qa-sister-helen-prejean-110119 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Sister Helen by Scott Langley.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>When Sister Helen Prejean became the spiritual adviser to death row inmate Patrick Sonnier in Louisiana, she began her journey as a long-time advocate for the incarcerated, and an educator about the death penalty. That experience was the basis for her the best-selling book and award-winning film <em>Dead Man Walking</em> starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. Throughout her work with inmates, she&rsquo;s also turned some of her focus to the treatment of exonerees and the wrongly accused, an issue we&rsquo;ve been following as part of our series <strong><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/taxonomy/term/25768/" target="_blank">Exoneree Diaries</a></em></strong>.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>You&rsquo;re best known for your advocacy for abolishing the death penalty, but you also served as a spiritual adviser for people you believed to be innocent on death row. How is that work distinct from your work against capital punishment &ndash; or is it?</strong></p><p>They&rsquo;re very connected because the practice of the death penalty to put people in a cell for 15 or 20 years and take them out and kill them, they&rsquo;re both related to a form of torture. What innocence shows is the brokenness of the system.</p><p>I am now with my seventh person on death row. The other six I have accompanied to their deaths. Of the six I have accompanied to their deaths, two of them were innocent, and the man I&rsquo;m with now on death row in Louisiana, Manuel Ortiz, is totally innocent.</p><p>It&rsquo;s going on 21 years. It all boils down to the dignity of the person.</p><p><strong>A new study shows that one in 25 people sentenced to death is likely innocent. What do think this means for the movement &ndash; our awareness of the likelihood that there are innocent people on death row?</strong></p><p>It&rsquo;s one of the factors that&rsquo;s helping us as a country to shut the death penalty down. I thought the same when I got involved. I thought it would be a real fluke that there could possibly be an innocent person [on death row] with all the appeals. I thought the courts handled it, and I didn&rsquo;t know if you have a broken system that&rsquo;s in square one.</p><p>Trials are supposed to be an adversarial way of coming to truth. You have the prosecution present, and then you have the defense present. You have prosecution in charge of the evidence, like the original police report where there were any other suspects. They have the rape kit. They have everything. And you have poor people who can&rsquo;t really mount a defense and really make it adversarial to question to have independent forensic testing because they don&rsquo;t have the money. They don&rsquo;t have the money to go get the eyewitnesses. They don&rsquo;t have resources.</p><p>It&rsquo;s bound to be flawed, and that&rsquo;s what I ended up concluding in &ldquo;The Death of Innocents&rdquo; that with this kind of broken structure, it is inevitable that the innocent will go with the guilty.</p><p><strong>Have you ever been a spiritual adviser to someone who was exonerated?</strong></p><p>No, but I&rsquo;m hoping it will be Manuel Ortiz. He&rsquo;s from El Salvador, going on 21 years on Louisiana&rsquo;s death row.</p><p>I&rsquo;ve been accompanying him 10 [years]. We just assembled a new legal team for him. Through Freedom of Information Act, he&rsquo;s been able to get [evidence] from the FBI. They had a lot of that information and wouldn&rsquo;t turn it over that they could have used to impeach the one person that said &lsquo;Yeah, he hired me.&rsquo;</p><p>They didn&rsquo;t have any forensic evidence. They didn&rsquo;t have anything. Just that one man saying, &lsquo;He hired me to kill his ex-wife.&rsquo;</p><p><strong>As someone who knows the in&rsquo;s and out&rsquo;s of the criminal justice system, what do you think aftercare should look like for the exonerated upon release?</strong></p><p>First of all, there needs to be a public apology by the prosecutor. It&rsquo;s very rare that you ever even get an apology because they maintain all along that they did the right thing.</p><p>The other thing is [exonerees] need to get remuneration from the state for the lost years of their life. And they need to learn social relationships. They&rsquo;ve been in that cell. They need to learn how to relate to women again, the ones who are men.</p><p>You need therapy. You need help. What has happened? Who are you now? When you&rsquo;re on death row, you get a thousand signals a day that you&rsquo;re nothing but disposable human waste.</p><p>What happens to a human being in terms of the brain and developing and learning? So [they need] school and education. They need to be part of a community circle where they can have a constant interaction and be able to share on a deeper, personal level. Then the job. What work are you going to do?</p></p> Thu, 01 May 2014 13:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/qa-sister-helen-prejean-110119 Teens learning radio skills in Chicago police program http://www.wbez.org/news/teens-learning-radio-skills-chicago-police-program-109447 <p><p>A pair of police officers on Chicago&rsquo;s South Side are helping teens learn radio production in an effort to keep them off the streets and improve their views on cops.</p><p>The program in the Englewood neighborhood fits with a push by Chicago Police Department Superintendent Garry McCarthy to improve the relationship between police officers and the people they serve.</p><p>It is called the 7th District Youth Anti-Violence Media Program. It introduces teens to the ins and outs of radio production, and gives them a chance to get on the air.</p><p>The classes are held three days a week at Kennedy-King College. The broadcasting instructors there pitch in to teach the kids.</p><p>The program was started by Daliah Goree-Pruitt and Claudette Knight, both community policing (or CAPS) officers. The two started out as beat cops. Now they are in charge of neighborhood outreach, counseling crime victims, and running community meetings &nbsp;in a neighborhood struggling with some of the highest crime rates in the city.</p><p>The two had a lot to do already. Knight and Goree-Pruitt also do a weekly food give-away and hand out turkeys before Thanksgiving. On the Saturday before Christmas, they gave away toys at the station house located at 1438 W. 63rd Street.</p><p>But 7th District Deputy Chief Leo Schmitz came to them last spring with a new task.</p><p>&ldquo;He was like, &lsquo;Think of something that we can do for the kids,&rsquo;&rdquo; Goree-Pruitt said.</p><p>Schmitz was worried about the summer then coming up, when hot temperatures and idle teens could contribute to a spike in violent crime.</p><p>Knight said they wanted to do something new.</p><p>&ldquo;You know, something different, some other added activity because you always hear basketball, baseball, but not all kids are sports-inclined,&rdquo; Knight said.</p><p>They wanted to do a swim program, but they could not get the funding. Goree-Pruitt said the only thing the department had money for was t-shirts for the participants. So Goree-Pruitt and Knight needed partners.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CAPS%202%20%281%29.jpg" style="height: 272px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="Jamar Houston of WKKC teaches Jermaine Robinson how to DJ. (WBEZ/Patrick Smith)" /></div><p>Kennedy-King College, about a mile west of the 7th District station, has a broadcasting department and its own radio station, WKKC. Knight said it was the &ldquo;perfect opportunity.&rdquo; They approached the college and got the OK.</p><p>So all they needed were students. This turned out to not be easy. The two went personally to high school principals in the area, asking them to recommend students for the program&hellip; and they got almost no response. Then they asked area pastors - again, nothing.</p><p>So Goree-Pruitt and Knight just started approaching random kids on the street and around the neighborhood.</p><p>That&rsquo;s how Genavie Clark heard about it.</p><p>&ldquo;One day [I was] sitting in Dunkin&rsquo; Donuts, and all the officers were sitting in Dunkin&rsquo; Donuts, and Officer Goree came up to my table and she told us about the radio program. So I signed up for it,&rdquo; Genavie said.</p><p>Ultimately, the two got 20 teens of high school age for that first summer class, and it went so well they did a smaller after-school version this fall.</p><p>The program gets by mostly on the power of Goree-Pruitt and Knight&rsquo;s charisma, which is considerable. But these two career cops know nothing about radio production, and they do not have any money to pay instructors.</p><p>So the students learn mostly by observing WKKC in action.</p><p>The kids are exposed to a lot of the skills that go into producing a radio show: hosting, logging tape, mixing audio - even DJ-ing.</p><p>Station manager Dennis Snipe comes in every once in awhile to talk to the students about diction and public speaking, the assistant program director lets them look over her shoulder while she logs tape, and the hosts give them pointers during music breaks.</p><p>The summer classes were from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., so the students had to be fed. The owner of a shopping plaza across the street from the station donated Subway sandwiches.</p><p>So it&rsquo;s a nice story. But at first glance, none of it seems much like police work.</p><p>Knight disagrees.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s all about community interaction, because the youth especially, most of their interaction with the police is negative. So if you start introducing a positive interaction at a teenage level, then they start to view us in a different way,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>WBEZ ran a story on Dec. 23 about <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/8000-chicago-cops-now-little-friendlier-109425">police legitimacy training: thousands of Chicago cops re-learning how to best interact with the people they serve.</a></p><p>Efforts such as the radio program and legitimacy training fit with Superintendent McCarthy&rsquo;s priority on what he calls a return to community policing.</p><p>A recent study by Yale criminologist Andrew Papachristos found that Chicago in 2013 has had its lowest violent-crime rate in the past three decades. McCarthy credits community policing with a decrease in crime.</p><p>Goree-Pruitt believes it&rsquo;s part of her job to connect with people.</p><p>&ldquo;I feel like I can help these kids. I may not help all of them, but the ones that I can help, they&rsquo;ll know the police department just don&rsquo;t lock kids up,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Besides teaching them how to produce a radio show and to like cops, the officers use the class as a way to help the students deal with their own issues. They talk to the students about resolving conflicts, safe sex, and staying out of trouble.</p><p>Before they start the radio lessons, the students gather around a round table in a small windowless room across from the WKKC studios.</p><p>One of the girls is talking to Goree-Pruitt about problems she is having with her stepmom. She says her dad is getting a divorce, and he blames her.</p><p>Goree-Pruitt councils her on being the mature one, even though her stepmom is the adult.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve had the same issues, having two parents to living with just my mom, to my mom getting remarried, to my mom getting rid of all four of her daughters to be with this new husband, to my dad raising four daughters by himself. So I am no different from you all. Like I tell you all, because we&rsquo;re the police doesn&rsquo;t mean that we&rsquo;re not human,&rdquo; Goree-Pruitt told them.</p><p>Goree-Pruitt and Knight look tougher than they sound, and they both spent time on the beat, dealing with high-stress situations. But they also have families of their own, so maybe it is not surprising that they connect so well with teens.</p><p>&ldquo;When I come here it just, all my stress just goes away,&rdquo; freshman Wattsita Henley said.</p><p>The fall class, which ended earlier this month, was five high schoolers, three girls and two boys, and most did not seem like the types police really need to worry about.</p><p>Freshman James Cross Jr. said the closest he has ever gotten to drugs is seeing weed in a bag at school.</p><p>&ldquo;One of my friends showed me a bag, and I don&rsquo;t know why but I just started laughing,&rdquo; James &nbsp;told the group.</p><p>The other boy, Jermaine Robinson, has gotten into some trouble in the past.</p><p>He left Englewood to live with his grandmother in suburban Hazel Crest for a few years. &nbsp;He said he came back because it was just too quiet out there.</p><p>Robinson is about to start at Winnie Mandela, an alternative high school in the South Shore neighborhood.</p><p>He likes working with his hands, so he is trying to learn how to DJ.</p><p>His ultimate goal is to be a computer engineer.</p><p>&ldquo;Because like, when I was in 5th grade we did a program, and I earned a computer and I was taking it apart and putting it back together and stuff like that,&rdquo; Jermaine said.</p><p>Goree-Pruitt said she is not worried about what type of kids they are reaching, adding that she is just glad to be reaching any.</p><p>&ldquo; All I can say is that you touch one you reach another one, because they&rsquo;ll tell, they&rsquo;ll tell their friends.&rdquo;</p><p>The next radio class starts in January.</p><p>Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/pksmid">@pksmid</a>.</p></p> Fri, 27 Dec 2013 14:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/teens-learning-radio-skills-chicago-police-program-109447 James Kluppelberg's new home http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/james-kluppelbergs-new-home-109380 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/james_0_0_0.png" alt="" /><p><p><em>&ldquo;My kids grew up without me. I came out, they were grown. They had kids of their own. Now it&rsquo;s just like starting all over again.&rdquo;</em></p><p>&ldquo;DO YOU KNOW who this is?&rdquo; James said into the phone.</p><p>James Jr. was on the job when his dad called. He had reached out to the lawyers after seeing the story about James&rsquo; release on the news.</p><p>&ldquo;Yeah, you know,&rdquo; James Jr. answered, laughing slightly. Of course.</p><p>He was telling him he was working and wouldn&rsquo;t be able to talk too long when a supervisor urged him to take the call.</p><p>James Jr. took a break.</p><p>He asked how James&rsquo; night had been and when he could see him. James&rsquo; schedule was pretty open.</p><p>That evening, at the WGN-News studio in Chicago, James Jr. arrived where his dad was to be interviewed.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s someone here who looks just like you,&rdquo; someone on the news crew told him.</p><p>AFTER THE INTERVIEW, they met back at the lawyers&rsquo; office, driving separately. Another news interview was on deck. James Jr. waited.</p><p>He began to wonder how his dad was going to make it with only $14 and some change in his pocket. The lawyers planned to put him up at the Holiday Inn for about a week and were looking into some halfway houses &ndash; but no luck.</p><p>After the media left, James Jr. thought it best to take his dad to Kmart for the basics: jeans, shirts, belt, watch, wallet and sunglasses. Things a man needs to get by.</p><p>Next on the list: a steak dinner.</p><p>&ldquo;Give me a rare piece of meat and I&rsquo;m a happy man,&rdquo; James says.</p><p>As they talked, in a sense it felt as though they had never been robbed of 23 years. As though it was just a father and son grabbing a bite.</p><p>&ldquo;We just connected back that quickly,&rdquo; James says. &ldquo;It really was awesome to have that happen without all the awkwardness that you would think would come with something like that.&rdquo;</p><p>James Jr. dropped him off at the hotel in the early morning hours after a long night of catching up. He&rsquo;d pick him up the next morning to meet his two granddaughters for the first time.</p><p>&ldquo;HE&rsquo;S NOT GOING to be able to stay at that hotel,&rdquo; James Jr. told his wife Felicia when he got home.</p><p>The young couple had met as 15-year-olds on Chicago&rsquo;s Southwest side, around 33rd and Western.</p><p>Two years later, they had their first daughter Melanie. Another two years and they were married, moving to Indiana, ready to leave the city and its risks behind them. Felicia remembers not being able to walk around her neighborhood without being whistled at, starting around age 12.</p><p>&ldquo;The gangs started getting really bad,&rdquo; Felicia says. &ldquo;The schools aren&rsquo;t good.&rdquo;</p><p>Their three-bedroom house in Merrillville, Ind., was small and cozy. They didn&rsquo;t have a dining room, and one of the bedrooms was a tight squeeze. But it was home to the budding family.</p><p>When Felicia asked what her husband thought about asking James to come live with them, she knew he might be against it. The couple had once opened their home to James Jr.&rsquo;s mother, Dawn, and the relationship went sour.</p><p>&ldquo;She robbed us, she was doing drugs,&rdquo; James Jr. says. &ldquo;Told her she&rsquo;d only be able to say if she was clean.&rdquo;</p><p>Their estrangement had added to the pain of her passing just before James was let out.</p><p>Felicia thought they should at least give the guy a chance. &ldquo;Family to us is a lot. It&rsquo;s everything to us.&rdquo;</p><p>JAMES JR. WAS MULLING it over when he picked up his dad the next day to meet his kids.</p><p>When they walked in the door, two big-eyed little girls, 10-year-old Melanie and 4-year-old Rylie, ran to James and hugged him.</p><p>James was stunned at the welcome.</p><p>&ldquo;That melted his heart,&rdquo; Felicia remembers.</p><p>On the agenda was a birthday party for a friend&rsquo;s baby. James joined them, though he wasn&rsquo;t feeling too comfortable around people.</p><p>&ldquo;Here I am being introduced to my granddaughters for the first time, and then on top of that, I&rsquo;m being sent to a birthday party with total strangers. A bunch of them,&rdquo; James says.</p><p>He toughed out the nerves, reeling at times, and ended up staying the weekend.</p><p>When James Jr. dropped his dad off on his way into work Monday, he had given it enough thought.</p><p>&ldquo;So I know you&rsquo;re not going to have a place to stay after the hotel,&rdquo; James Jr. said, backing into the question. &ldquo;Do you want to come stay with us?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;That would be great,&rdquo; James told his son. He felt humbled. &ldquo;Very, very, very humbled.&rdquo;</p><p>A FEW DAYS LATER, James Jr. pulled into the Holiday Inn for the last time. James didn&rsquo;t have much to his name, except for about a half dozen heavy file boxes full of case documents that he&rsquo;d accumulated in prison. They got a cart from the front desk and loaded them into the car.</p><p>Back in Merrillville, James Jr. and Felicia had prepared for his arrival, moving their daughters out of their bedroom to a small front space that they had been using as a computer room. James would sleep in their room. The girls would be fine, and it was only temporary. Just until they could get James his own bed.</p><p>&ldquo;Definitely a girly girl room,&rdquo; he recalls.</p><p>With a roof over his head and his family nearby, James slept in his granddaughters&rsquo; bunk bed. His new home came with pink Tinkerbell sheets.</p></p> Mon, 16 Dec 2013 11:04:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/james-kluppelbergs-new-home-109380