After being incarcerated for crimes they did not commit, exonerees are faced with an even tougher battle. They must readjust to a world that isn't waiting with open arms; in most cases, it's the opposite.
The challenges that await exonerees upon their release compound the injustices of wrongful incarceration. The pressure of finding employment and gaining access to medical treatment, dental treatment, housing and job training are just a few typical hurdles. In addition, there is no system in place to help exonerees deal with the trauma of incarceration and its impact in their lives post-exoneration. Exonerees are forced to re-enter a society bearing the stigma and the stain of incarceration, despite their innocence.
RAE is working to transform the experience of exonerated men and returning long-term prisoners, creating social leaders where there is currently a cycle of recidivism, desperation and poverty. We have completed renovations on a transitional housing facility that can house up to 3 exonerees. Run by exonerees for exonerees, this home is the first of its kind. As well, we are formulating plans for a screen-printing business, Beacon Industries, that will sustain the home and provide us with leadership and entrepreneurial skills.
RAE's exonerees can now access individual counseling, educational opportunities, and financial and computer literacy training. Instead of working for free for the prison system, we are working together to help each other, building our solidarity. Above all, we are positioning ourselves as advocates for criminal justice reform, speaking about our experiences at events and venues nationwide.