Helping the Exonerated Cope After Release

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Jeffrey Deskovic talks about his advocacy organization and support group for exonerated inmates, the Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation for Justice. He says that, with more awareness about prosecutorial misconduct, more and more exoneration cases are being brought.

Of his own fight for exoneration, Deskovic says, "You’re not just fighting an external battle – trying to stay away from the obstacles, you’re trying to prove your case in court against often a doubting judiciary. But then also, it’s an inner struggle. You have to fight off feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, depression – thoughts of suicide come in your mind."

Unlike parolees, however, there’s no help available for the exonerated as they make the transition out of prison. Deskovic says, "You’re released with nothing."

Kian Khatibi and William Lopez, who have both been exonerated, described their experiences. Khatibi was sentenced at the age of 17 and when he was released – after nine and a half years -- he didn’t even have ID.  "Basically, everything I had to learn over again. How to live in society, how to pump gas on a car. I mean, everything had changed so much."

Lopez served 23 and a half years for allegedly killing a drug dealer in a botched robbery in 1989. When he went into prison, MetroCards and cell phones didn’t exist. "The world is incredibly fast…It’s changed so much."