Imagine being locked up for a crime you did not commit. Imagine if that conviction landed you on death row. This living nightmare is the reality of an unknown numbers of inmates. There is a saying often repeated by cynics, “Every inmate claims they are innocent.” As we are finding out, some actually are.
Proving one’s innocence is difficult. Too often the only voice proclaiming innocence is that of the convicted person, and that voice is often ignored. Fortunately, there are people who do listen, and if the inmate is lucky, their case will be reviewed, and if merited, the fight for exoneration will begin.
The Innocence Project is perhaps the most well known organization fighting for the freedom and exoneration of the wrongfully convicted, but there are other equally dedicated groups, usually made up of law students, that are just as dedicated.
The North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence (NCCAI) is one such group. As part of the National Innocence Network, the NCCAI works with the Innocence Projects at each of North Carolina’s law Schools. click here to go to website
But what happens when a death row inmate is exonerated? Reentry Central chronicled the story of Damien Echols, of the “West Memphis Three.” Echols and two others were wrongfully convicted of killing three young boys. Echols and his codefendants were eventually released, but Echols had a hard time adjusting to a world that changed dramatically during the years he was locked up on death row.
So how does one adjust to freedom after living on death row? Writing for Star News Online, Brian Freskos tells of the struggles faced by North Carolina residents who have found themselves in this situation. With very few reentry programs in the country dedicated to helping exonerated prisoners, particularly those on who lived on death row, North Carolina is trying to do its part to help these individuals succeed after life on death row.