Read the full article from California Innocence Project, here.
Earlier this year, we were approached by AmeriWorks, through the organization Band of Hands, with a unique opportunity – to put our exonerees to work with all expenses paid by AmeriWorks Donations. This seemed too good to be true. As many of you probably know, exonerees leave prison and are not welcomed into the parole/probation system. Rather, they are plucked out of prison and dropped back into society without any reintegration plan. Exonerees spend weeks, if not months, acclimating to life on the outside, often times without a bit of help from the general public. AmeriWorks asked us if we had potential work for them but the inability to pay the exonerees. In fact, we did. Our exonerees travel around and speak about their wrongful conviction, ways they see to improve the system, and the trials and tribulations of the criminal justice system. We suggested, and AmeriWorks agreed, that exonerees should be paid for their speaking engagements.
Several weeks after meeting with AmeriWorks, we received a credit in our account that allowed us to hire people for a job. We asked our exonerees to sign up and apply to work on the speaking engagements we were already looking to fill. Three exonerees applied and all received funding to speak to three separate firms. Specifically, Herman Atkins (Innocence Project exoneree) applied and received funding to speak at San Diego State University. Kimberly Long applied and received funding to be a guest speaker at a Sheppard Mullin event. Finally, Uriah Courtney applied and received funding to speak at a Duane Morris event. All in all, the exonerees completed a task they otherwise would not have been compensated for, except for the generous AmeriWorks Donation.
We applaud support from organizations like AmeriWorks and hope the partnership will continue for years to come. Providing funds and a work opportunity to our exonerees is essential to their reintegration into society.