Author Laura Caldwell on Life After Innocence
Editor’s Note: Our authors are smart cookies whose passions extend farther than just writing great stories! To prove it, here is Laura Caldwell, former trial lawyer and currently a professor and Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. She will be appearing on The Dr. Phil Show tomorrow to discuss Life After Innocence. Check your local listings!
I started the Life After Innocence Project, at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, in 2009. The project is designed to help innocent people like Dean Cage to begin their lives over again after a wrongful conviction (or a not-guilty at the trial level). The idea for the project originated with my representation of a young man who was in jail for nearly 6 years, awaiting trial on murder charges. He had been cuffed to a wall for 2 days at a Chicago police station until he admitted throwing a few punches in the fight which killed a man, not knowing such an admission would lead him to be indicted for death-penalty-murder. My friend, Cathy O’Daniel, took on the case, I joined her, and our client, Jovan Mosley, received a not-guilty verdict. But watching him start over was painful. He had no money, no home, no ID, no support services. I learned the same happens when an innocent person like Dean Cage is exonerated and released from prison, and so began Life After Innocence.
Dean was one of our very first clients. He had done fourteen years for a rape he didn’t commit before DNA evidence exonerated him completely. His amazing fiance, Jewel, stuck by him during all that time and you can read about their journey on CNN.com.
When Dean first appeared on the Dr. Phil Show, he got to meet the woman who mistakenly accused him of rape, sending him to prison for 14 years. CNN.com also did a piece on this story. Dr Phil enjoyed Dean and Loretta so much that he did a follow up show which I was involved in. It was truly profound to watch these 2 people, both victims of the system, come together, forgive each other, and actually heal a lot of deep wounds. I also got to introduce the world to Ron Kitchen, another client of ours, who did eleven years on death row and another ten years in regular population, until his innocence was revealed. I’d love to hear your thoughts after the show airs.
by Laura Caldwell, author of the Izzy McNeil Mysteries series