Dean Cage was serving a 40-year prison sentence for a crime he didn’t commit. He didn’t know if the truth of his innocence would ever come out, and in 2001 he told his longtime fiancée, Jewel Mitchell, to give up on him. She refused. She knew he was innocent and they had to keep fighting. They did, and they won. With the help of the Innocence Project, Cage was proven innocent and freed last year, after 14 years of waiting and fighting for exoneration.
A multimedia series on CNN.com this week chronicles the couple’s struggle and their reunion and new life together.
Read the story here
But Cage isn’t alone — he is one of 245 people exonerated through DNA testing. Many more have been freed in recent years through proof of innocence other than DNA tests. They face a hard road even after they are set free. Laws in 27 states provide some form of compensation, but none are immediate and no amount of money can give someone his or her life back.
There are support networks to help exonerees adjust. The Innocence Project Exoneree Fund helps clients with basic necessities immediately upon release. The Innocence Project also has two social workers on staff who provide pre-release services and intensive post-exoneration services to clients nationwide; in 2008, Innocence Project social workers provided vital services to 30 clients in 15 states.
Cage is a client of the Life After Innocence Project, an organization at
the Loyola University Chicago School of Law
that works to help Chicago-area exonerees.
A conference October 30
in Arlington, Texas, will bring together exonerees and service providers to discuss exoneree services and life after exoneration.
Connecticut exoneree Kenneth Ireland
talks about his first months of freedom
Learn more about
life after exoneration and the Innocence Project Exoneree Fund
exoneree compensation law
in your state?