Life After Exoneration: Where Are They Now? - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Life After Exoneration: Where Are They Now?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Dallas County was the first in the nation to set up a Conviction Integrity Unit, back in 2007, to identify false convictions and free the innocent. To honor that 10-year landmark, we recently sat down with several men who gained their freedom with the help of that unit and the Innocence Project of Texas, to find out how they've fared in the years since gaining their freedom. (Published Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017)

    2016 set a record for exonerations in this country: 166 people in 25 states cleared of crimes they didn't commit.

    Dallas County had none in 2015 or 2016, after seeing a flood of wrongful convictions overturned in the years after former DA Craig Watkins started the nation’s first Conviction Integrity Unit.

    Many of those exonerated people say there are still innocent people stuck in jail, and they’d like to see the work continue.

    We sat down with a group of men recently to talk about life after exoneration. They form a brotherhood of sorts, and lean on each other for support.

    "Nobody understands what we actually went through except another exoneree,” said Charles Chatman, who served 27 years for a crime he did not commit.

    But bitterness does not prevail in their lives.

    "They have so much love and empathy and sympathy,” said Michelle Moore, among the advocates and attorneys who helped prove their innocence. “Their hearts are so big. There's no room for anger. It's amazing. They are amazing men."

    Moore is now the chief public defender in Burnet County.

    Among the men we spoke to:

    Christopher Scott and Johnny Lindsey work together with another wrongly convicted man, Steven Phillips on a non-profit, House of Renewed Hope, to help others prove their innocence. Their work is the subject of the documentary “True Conviction,” which was screened at Tribeca and is traveling the country.

    Scott was also named a Texan of the Year by the Dallas Morning News in 2012.

    Richard Miles, who served 15 years for a murder and attempted murder he had nothing to do with, met and married the woman of his dreams, and they now have a child.

    Miles started his own non-profit, Miles of Freedom, which provides a variety of services for individuals and families impacted by incarceration.