Life After Innocence
Laura Caldwell is the director and founder of the Life After Innocence clinic at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, working with wrongfully convicted individuals or other innocent persons affected by the criminal justice system in order to help them re-enter society and reclaim their lives.
Life After Innocence was inspired by one of her clients, a 19-year-old man, who sat in a Cook County holding cell for nearly six years without a trial. His ultimate release was won by Laura and a renowned criminal defense attorney, and their story was captured in Laura’s first nonfiction book, Long Way Home: A Young Man Lost And The Two Women Who Found Him.
A number of innocence projects work around the country (and the world) to free those in prison for crimes they did not commit. However, there are fewer, if any, resources for persons once exonerated. Life After Innocence at Loyola University Chicago follows up with such exonerees to offer guidance, pro bono legal services and additional support on all levels. Students and faculty work with recent exonerees to obtain expungement of their records, find housing, search for employment, obtain counseling, procure identification, teach computer and cellphone skills, obtain medical treatment, aid in gaining Certificates of Innocence, and work with money managers to deal with any state funds or civil verdicts received after release.
Life After Innocence student members attend weekly group meetings and are required to sign an agreement indicating that they will provide weekly billing to account for time devoted to the project and will continue after the semester, on their own time, any projects not completed during the semester.