Exoneration primarily through the use of DNA evidence has become a growing concept over the past 3 decades. More recently, with enhanced DNA technology and a rapidly growing group of involved professionals, exonerating the wrongfully accused has become a mainstream concept. The National Registry of Exonerations is a joint project of the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law that provides detailed information about known exonerations in the United States since 1989. According to The National Registry of Exonerations, released on May 21, 2012, 891 exonerations have been listed; the National Registry has grown quickly, reaching 1,000 exonerations on October 26, 2012, with around five new cases being added each week. (www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration)
Non-profit organizations such as the Innocence Project founded in 1992, have formed across the nation to assist wrongly convicted individuals through the use of DNA testing, and to reform the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice. As of 2011, the Innocence Project is responsible for freeing 311 wrongfully convicted individuals, including 18 who spent time on death row. (www.innocenceproject.org) The Innocence Project is also the founder of the Innocence Network, which is an affiliation of organizations dedicated to providing pro bono legal and investigative services to individuals seeking to prove their innocence of crimes for which they have been convicted. Most organizations involved are in the United States, covering all 50 states; however, the network includes organizations in Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. (www.innocencenetwork.org)
As these organizations continue to grow and the concept of exoneration broadens, the number of exonerees will also increase. Life Beyond Freedom is concerned about what happens to individuals after exoneration. With an average of 10 years of incarceration for people exonerated (www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration), how do these individuals become successful members of society after prison? There are little to no resources for these individuals after they achieve freedom in the state of California. Our solution is to provide services to exonerees that will ensure a successful transition from incarceration back into society. Life Beyond Freedom will provide rehabilitation through education, therapy, financial planning, housing, job training, family support and assistance programs and services. By giving support to this growing population we are offering them a fair opportunity at leading a successful life and becoming successful and responsible members of society.
Exonerees who finish our program will obtain sustainable jobs, create community, foster healthy social relationships and will have the skills necessary to fulfill their dreams.
Our overall goal is to give exonerees the confidence to lead a successful life and to fulfill their life goals and dreams. To do this we will offer holistic case management to each exoneree and provide distinguished and direct services and opportunities that will assist in the transition from a life in prison, to becoming successful members of the community.
We will offer individual and or family therapy, housing, financial planning, job training, family support and assistance programs as well as the opportunity to get a high school/ GED and or college education. It is our mission to give exonerees the opportunity to succeed in life at a time when success may seem unattainable and support at a time where life can be confusing and even scary. We will accomplish this by offering these services and most importantly, giving anyone involved the opportunity to experience leadership, courage, and compassion.
100% of our target market is California exonerees, with a three year plan to expand our resources across the nation to assist all exonerees in the United States. We will work closely with the Northern California Innocence Project, based out of San Jose, CA, to make the initial contact and communication with the individuals they have assisted in the exoneration process.
As the concept of exoneration and the resources to assist potential exonerates increases, the number of exonerates will continue to grow. Originally the National Registry of Exonerations shows 873 exonerations from 1989 through February 2012. Since then, the Registry has added exonerations at a rate exceeding 200 a year and approximately 5 new cases being added to the registry, per week. (www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration)
With little to no resources available for exonerees in California as well as across the nation, LBF will be the main resource for these individuals. We will assist in the challenging transition from prison to society, and offer these individuals an opportunity to fulfill their life dreams which was once wrongfully taken from them.
Our mission is to create opportunities for the exonerated and give them a fair chance at true freedom and success after they so wrongfully had it taken from them. Exonerees who finish our program will obtain sustainable jobs, create community, foster healthy social relationships and gain the skills necessary to fulfill their dreams."