Anatomy of Innocence

By Ashley Stead

It is becoming common knowledge that wrongful convictions are possible, but many still do not understand why they happen, how an innocent person could survive such an ordeal or what consequences wrongful convictions may have. Life After Innocence Director Laura Caldwell has undertaken a new book project that will hopefully illustrate some of these issues in a captivating and intriguing way.

Anatomy of Innocence is a book in progress led by editors Caldwell and Leslie S. Klinger. It will tell a tale of a wrongful conviction from beginning to end. Instead of the tale of just one innocent person’s wrongful conviction journey, it will be snapshot chapters of the true tales of over a dozen exonerees. Each chapter of the book will tell a portion of an exoneree’s story, written by a highly skilled mystery and thriller writer.  All essays will be woven together to illustrate an exoneree’s journey from accusation to freedom and beyond. The book will read like a thriller novel while also shedding light on some of the issues surrounding wrongful convictions.

This is an exciting project for Life After Innocence (LAI) for numerous reasons, including many of our own clients participation in the book. The students have also worked on the project and assist in its creation. Anatomy of Innocence will enlighten others about the experiences of an exoneree. Lastly, all profits from the book will be donated to Life After Innocence to provide for further resources and assistance to our clients. Over the next five years, Life After Innocence hopes to grow and expand greatly so that we may be able to serve our clients better and provide resources for other organizations to assist in the after innocence journey.

I recently had the pleasure to speak with Kirk Bloodsworth, an exoneree who will be participating in the project. Bloodsworth is the first American sentenced to death row who was exonerated by DNA. He is paired with British thriller writer Lee Child for his chapter in Anatomy of Innocence. Child’s 19 published novels feature his character, Jack Reacher who was played by Tom Cruise in the 2012 movie. Bloodsworth said he is elated at the opportunity to work with such a renowned writer and to participate in the project. He was reading one of Child’s novels and said it was so captivating he could not put it down.

Anatomy of Innocence is still in the early phase of its creation, but at LAI we could not be more honored to be able to contribute to such a great project!


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