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Life after Death Row: Exonerees' Search for Community and Identity

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Life after Death Row examines the post-incarceration struggles of individuals who have been wrongly convicted of capital crimes, sentenced to death, and subsequently exonerated.

Saundra D. Westervelt and Kimberly J. Cook present eighteen exonerees’ stories, focusing on three central areas: the invisibility of the innocent after release, the complicity of the justice system in that invisibility, and personal trauma management. Contrary to popular belief, exonerees are not automatically compensated by the state or provided adequate assistance in the transition to post-prison life. With no time and little support, many struggle to find homes, financial security, and community. They have limited or obsolete employment skills and difficulty managing such daily tasks as grocery shopping or banking. They struggle to regain independence, self-sufficiency, and identity.

Drawing upon research on trauma, recovery, coping, and stigma, the authors weave a nuanced fabric of grief, loss, resilience, hope, and meaning to provide the richest account to date of the struggles faced by people striving to reclaim their lives after years of wrongful incarceration.

ISBN-13: 9780813553825

Publisher: Rutgers University Press

Publication Date: 10-17-2012

Pages: 280

Product Dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

Age Range: 18 Years

Series: Critical Issues in Crime and Society

SAUNDRA D. WESTERVELT is an associate professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. She is the coeditor of Wrongly Convicted: Perspectives on Failed Justice (Rutgers University Press). KIMBERLY J. COOK is a professor and chair of the Department of Sociology and Criminology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. She is the author of Divided Passions: Public Opinions on Abortion and the Death Penalty.

Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures ix

Preface xi

Part 1 Setting the Stage 1

1 Living the Aftermath of a Wrongful Conviction 3

2 Researching the Innocent 14

3 Introducing the Exonerees 29

Part 2 Struggling with Life after Exoneration 55

4 Facing Practical Problems 57

5 Managing Grief and Loss 72

6 Rebuilding Relationships 83

7 Negotiating Emotional Terrain 91

Part 3 Coping with Innocence 105

8 Confronting Life on Death Row 107

9 Coping with Life after Death Row 129

10 Reclaiming Innocence 168

Part 4 Doing Justice 193

11 Searching for Reintegration and Restoration 195

12 Moving Forward 222

Epilogue 239

Notes 247

References 253

Index 269