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!

Author Laura Caldwell 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

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Comments ( 4 )
  1. Sun Chara
    March 11, 2010 at 1:27 am
    Reply

    Bless you Laura & your team for this valuable Life After Innocence work you’re doing…there are so many innocents behind bars, and they must be liberated! The public needs to be educated that the ‘system’ makes far too many mistakes, and too many people are wrongfully convicted…this has to stop! Thank you, Laura for blazing the trail for good changes for these people, and hopefully the legal system!

  2. Tara
    March 11, 2010 at 11:25 am
    Reply

    I just finished watching the Dr. Phil show. I applaud you for all that you do. we truly need to change the system in the US.I too have a son in Prison in Ga,He is 29 yrs old now but was arrested just 3 mom=nths after his 18th birthday for armed robbbery. He is currently serving a 10 yr sentence, with 8 years remaining. He has no chance of parole. because we were unable to afford a attorney and he had been questioned about some incidents and made a statement that was used against him, his Public defender suggested he plead guilty.He is not spotless, but I do not feel that he deseves to spend 10 years of his life in Prison. If there is anyone reading this that can help PLEASE!! continue to do all that you do to create an environment by which they can thrive.God Bless!!!!

  3. Laura Caldwell
    March 11, 2010 at 2:28 pm
    Reply

    Thanks, you guys very much. Tara, good luck with your son. When his sentence is nearing the end, start to work with him on what he’ll have to get used to in the world. Technology is often the most flummoxing.

  4. laura tanous-marshall
    March 12, 2010 at 7:52 pm
    Reply

    Dear Laura, I just want to say I think you are doing such a wonderful thing by helping these innocent people. I had a chance to view you on Dr. Phil yesterday. After the show I just happen to pick up our local Sunday Paper which I hadn’t had a chance to read all week. Well there was an article in the paper about a man name Dennis Dechaine. Well I am from Maine and so is this man. I have never met Mr.Dechaine but remember when he got convicted of the murder of a young girl in a small town where he was a young man and farmer.It could be that he was at the wrong place at the time. I wasn’t sure back then in 1986,if it was possible this man was innocent but he has always been firm about being innocent. So now we have DNA and he has wanted a retrial for a while now. If David Dechaines is innocent isn’t tragic that he has lost 24 years of his life. I found a website on him, that you might be interested in. http://www.trialanderrordennis.org take care and god bless you and your staff.

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