Christopher Ochoa: In 1988, police investigators threatened Christopher Ochoa with the death penalty, and he falsely confessed to a rape and murder he did not commit. Ochoa and his co-worker, Richard Danziger, were sentenced to life in prison; they both served twelve years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. When Ochoa was freed in 2001, he became a law student at the University of Wisconsin, the same law school that worked to bring about his exoneration.
Juan Melendez: Juan Melendez moved from Puerto Rico to Delaware at seventeen, and soon found himself struggling to make money and began to hustle on the streets. In 1984, based on the unreliable testimony of an informant, Melendez was convicted of the murder and armed robbery of a man heâ€™d never met. He was extradited to Florida, sentenced to death, and served seventeen years before previously concealed evidence exonerated him. He now heads â€œJuan Melendez Voices United for Justice,â€ an advocacy group, and is an avid anti-death penalty activist and speaker.
Gary Gauger: Gary Gaugerâ€™s parents were murdered on their Richmond, Illinois farm in 1993. Police immediately blamed Gauger. During a grueling interrogation, detectives temporarily convinced Gauger that he had actually committed the crime. He was found guilty and sentenced to deathâ€”and released three years later. A popular speaker on wrongful convictions, he lives on that same Illinois farm, still contending with the psychological effects of his incarceration.
James Newsome: James Newsome was living on the South Side of Chicago when a white grocer was shot to death in a local convenience store. Officers from the Area 2 police station, known for corruption and abuse, made Newsome their prime suspect. Eyewitnesses misidentified him in a police lineup, and an all-white jury sentenced him to life in prison. He served fifteen years before fingerprints from the crime scene were matched to an already-incarcerated criminal. After his release, Newsome won a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against the City of Chicago. He now owns a shoe store there called Heelz.
Calvin Willis: Based on the eyewitness identification of a nine-year-old rape victim, Calvin Willis was convicted of rape, and sentenced to life in prison. After one of his lawyers had a heart attack and another was struck dead by lightning, Willis relied on the help and dedication of a paralegal to raise enough money to have his DNA tested, in 2003. After twenty-two years in Louisianaâ€™s infamous Angola Prison, Willis has started again in Shreveport. He is awaiting compensation.
John Stoll: In the mid-1980s, a series of child-abuse â€œwitch huntsâ€ swept California. A flurry of prosecutions and convictions ensued, and John Stoll took the hardest fall. He was charged with molesting his own son and several other boys, and was sentenced to forty years in prison. He served nineteen; in 2004, the boys recanted their testimony. For Stoll, who now lives in Oklahoma, his release didn’t repair the damageâ€”he no longer speaks with his son, who continues to believe he was molested.
Beverly Monroe: In the early 1990s, Virginian Beverly Monroe was convicted of the murder of her longtime companion, who had in fact killed himself. Her twenty-two year sentence was relatively light, but the case against her was tenuous at best. A police investigator persuaded her to sign a hypothetical statement, later construed as a confession, and then convinced a convicted felon, whom Monroe had never met, to testify against her at trial. After a lengthy and complicated appellate process, Monroe was freed in 2002. She lives in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Michael Evans and Paul Terry: Michael Evans and Paul Terry were seventeen-year-old boys when they were convicted for a rape and murder they knew nothing about. As a result of the testimony of a neighborhood woman seeking to claim reward money, the two were sentenced to 200- to 400-year sentences. Evans maintained his optimism during his time in the most notorious Illinois prisons, but Terry struggled to preserve his sanity. After twenty-seven years, they were exonerated by DNA evidence. Now living in Chicago, they are grown men vastly changed by their ordeals.
David Pope: David Pope spent fifteen years in the Texas prison system for a rape he didnâ€™t commit. He was convicted with now-discredited â€œvoice spectrographâ€ technology that compared his voice to recorded conversations with the actual rapist. When DNA from his case proved his innocence in the late 1990s, Pope stayed in prison for years, unaware that heâ€™d been cleared. He was finally released in 2001, after Texas Governor Rick Perry signed his pardon. He now lives in Bolinas, California, and is looking for work.
Joseph Amrine: In 1985, Joseph Amrine was accused and convicted of stabbing a fellow inmate at a prison in Jefferson City, Missouri. When it came time for his sentencing, he campaigned for the death penalty, hoping it would draw attention and legal assistance to his case. It did. In 2003, Amrine was released after witnesses, including jailhouse informants and guards, recanted their testimony. He now lives in Kansas City and works with the Public Interest Litigation Clinic legal group as a speaker and outreach coordinator.
Peter Rose: On a late fall morning in 1994, a teenage girl was raped in Lodi, California. The girlâ€™s aunt implicated Peter Rose, repeatedly suggesting to her niece that he was the assailant. Rose was convicted of rape and kidnapping and was sentenced to twenty-seven years, leaving his own children without his support. He served ten years in California prisons before being cleared by DNA evidence. Rose now lives in Point Arena, California, and works in construction. He is awaiting compensation from the state.
Kevin Green: As a Marine, Kevin Green admits that he was â€œyoung, dumb, and full of it.â€ He had a rocky relationship with his first wife, Diane, and when she was brutally assaulted by a serial rapist known as the â€œBedroom Basher,â€ Green was accused of the crime. He was convicted based on his wifeâ€™s testimony, and served sixteen years in California prisons before DNA evidence exonerated him. He now lives in Jefferson City, Missouri.