We’ve all seen joyous, tearful news coverage of innocent men released from prison after they were exonerated of rape or murder by DNA testing. But what happens next? The documentary After Innocence (on Showtime beginning Thursday) answers that question concerning eight freed men.
In most cases, state laws make shockingly scant provision for anything other than a “Whoops, sorry” — so guys such as Vincent Moto, imprisoned for a decade in Pennsylvania, are returned to the streets with only the cash they had in their pockets when they were locked up. (Moto has not even been able to get his criminal record expunged, because it would cost him $6,000 in legal fees to do so.)
The men are both hardened (like Nicholas Yarris, who spent 23 years on death row in solitary confinement) and redeemed (Ronald Cotton has become a close friend of the woman who erroneously identified him as her rapist in 1984).
It’s a quietly devastating chronicle of survival — and of the ongoing individual struggles for justice against the inhumane inertia of the legal system.
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