Life After Exoneration: What’s next?

Alejandra de la Fuente — January 28, 2014 @ 2:09 PM — Comments (1)

It’s safe to say that one of the best days of the lives of a wrongfully convicted person is the day that they are finally free from prison after serving time for crimes they did not commit. However, these men and women who had once thought their lives were over get a major news flash the moment they are set free. What do they do next?

If you are like Nicole Harris, a female exoneree from the greater Chicago area, you spend time with your teenage son, who was just 5 years old at the time of conviction, and apply to graduate school. You even might plan that long awaited trip to New York City. That is what Harris is doing, as she says it is the one place she has always wanted to go.

Maybe you are Brian Banks, who at the time of his conviction was being recruited by USC and Pete Caroll to play big- time college football. After five years in prison, what would you do if you were Banks? Why, play more football, of course. Since being exonerated almost two years ago, Brian has tried out for the Atlanta Falcons, making it to the next final cut before the 52-person team. He runs a twitter account and has done all he can to do what he has always wanted to do.


If you are Bill Dillon, you have 27 years of life to make up; you record an album, and sing the national anthem at the Tampa Bay Ray’s baseball game. Dillon spent over half of his life behind bars, and he is now working to make up for lost time. He plays in a band, loves Deep Purple, and has spent the last 5 years getting used to the major change in technology since 1981 when he was convicted.

IPF board member and exoneree, William Michael Dillon performed two songs about his wrongful conviction.

IPF board member and exoneree, William Michael Dillon performed two songs about his wrongful conviction.

The stories of the exonerated are some of the most powerful out there. They were taken from their families, their dreams, their life plans, and put in prison for crimes they did not commit. Now, trying to get back to ‘normal’ life, it is not always the easiest thing to pick up where they left off. With that being said, many of those who have been wrongfully convicted restore in the rest of us hope, even when we may be in a place where no hope comes from at all.

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Comments and Pings on “Life After Exoneration: What’s next?”

  1. My cousin is James W. Hutchison..who has been in prison for over 25 years for a crime he didn’t commit. He in there for life unless he gets freed as he deserves. Hes serving time for another mans crime and there is some proof of it but we need help. I was directed here by several people who said that this school helps to fight cases and that is why I am contacting you. please help us!!! James was 17 and got drunk at a party but tried to do the right thing he had asked for a ride home and 3 other men all together were taking him. James was passed out in the back seat of the car and didn’t have any clue to what the men were doing later on he ended up being arrested for murder. Apparently the men had someone in the trunk taped up and cut up it was horrific. James never took a plea because he kept saying he just cant say he did something he didn’t do. So part of the other 3 mens pleas were to testify against James. They brutally murdered a man and are free today while James is in jail for life. Now there was evidence collected plenty of it all of which will show if DNA is checked as it wasn’t available back then its a simple DNA check to verify his innocence on top of that to show the men all testified to save themselves. All of this will help free my innocent cousin to come home to his family and daughter he never met yet as his girlfriend was early on in a pregnancy at this time when this horrible case came about. Please help us be heard and please help us bring our loved one home. James has been in jail over 25 years for something he had thought he was being responsible doing in not drinking and driving. Thanks for your time and I sure hope and pray you help.

    Please understand
    the dna is on the other mens clothes and the tape would have their prints that’s what we need verified I know James had no dna anywhere!!!!
    thanks Heather

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