Illinois man finds a difficult road to a new life


Robert Wilson was released from prison in Illinois in December after serving more than nine years in prison for a crime he didn't commit, and an article in today’s Chicago Tribune considers the difficult adjustment for the exonerated upon release.

Represented by attorneys at the

Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law

, Wilson was released last year after his attorneys presented evidence that he was misidentified by the victim in the case and that another man had confessed to committing similar crimes in the area. A judge granted Wilson a new trial based on these discoveries and prosecutors dropped the charges.

Now, Wilson is working to build a new life after nine years in prison.

Day by day, Wilson, 51, is trying. But he finds himself in a kind of purgatory unique to those exonerated of crimes: He isn't guaranteed the meager benefits allotted ex-felons on parole or the restitution awarded those who've been pardoned after wrongful convictions. For now, while he awaits a decision on his request for a pardon based on innocence, he's on his own.

To try to rebuild his life, he is using the same mind-set that got him through prison and childhood in a tough neighborhood: Focus on what needs to be done and ignore the rest, he said.

"If I stay focused on what happened and what I've been through, my whole attitude would change," Wilson said. "I would be bitter and angry."

Read the full story

. (Chicago Tribune, 08/30/07)

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