Friday, December 01, 2006

Tis the season

Gregory Wallis is in need of a winter coat after spending 18 years in a Texas prison for a burglary and rape he did not commit. Earlier this year, the Life After Exoneration Program helped Greg get clothing for the spring because he was penniless and unemployed. Since that time, the temperature has dropped in Texas. Although the Life After Exoneration Program helped Greg with his basic necessities like identification documents, glasses and utility payments, Gregory's struggles are not over and he continues to rely on the support of the Life After Exoneration Program.

Why are we telling you about this? What does it have to do with the death penalty? We'll answer the second question in a minute. For now, let's tackle the first.

Close to 400 men and women in our country have proven their innocence and been released from prison after having been convicted of crimes they did not commit. On average, they serve more than twelve years in prison before release.

But the nightmare of wrongful conviction and incarceration does not end there. The exonerated face serious challenges in virtually every aspect of rebuilding their lives on the outside - employment, housing, financial resources, support systems, and access to medical, psychological and dental care. In most cases, exonerees are pushed out the prison door without as much as an apology, and left to fend for themselves.

I just got an email message from the Life After Exonerated program. This program helps people like Gregory Wallis -- people who need help standing on their own two feet after being incarcerated for years and years for crimes they did not commit. Today, this program is in danger of closing its doors -- and being unable to help people like Greg -- unless they receive contributions. You can help by going here.

Now, our second question. What does this have to do with the death penalty? Well, at least 123 people have been removed from death row and released from prison after evidence of their innocence emerged. They, too, need our help -- and many are receiving help from the Life After Exonerated folks.

You can read more by going here.

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