Life After Death: Life Histories of Innocents Released From Death Row

Saundra D. Westervelt, University of North Carolina - Greensboro
Kimberly J. Cook, University of Southern Maine

ABSTRACT
We discuss the findings of a pilot study of ten individuals exonerated and released from death row because of substantial evidence of their actual innocence. The nine men and one female spent from 2 to 18 years condemned to death before their exoneration. We examine their coping and adjustment strategies upon release, focusing on those factors that both facilitated and impeded post-release adjustment. In particular, release from prison resulted in difficult transitions back to "free" society where their home communities played critical roles in their success post-release. We conclude with a brief discussion of policy implications.

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Updated 05/20/2006