David J. Celuch
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Innocent inmates face challenges when adapting to freedom

David Robinson spent almost two decades in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. David was on track to spend a lifelong sentence in prison as an innocent man. Readers of our blog will know that he was released after a Missouri judge decided that the evidence against him was unreliable and the lead detective purposefully suppressed facts in his case.

Sheila Box was murdered in 2001. False testimonies and official misconduct by the detective on the case placed blame wrongfully on David Robinson. David was released 18 years later, able to return to his family and loved ones. Like other released inmates, David faces challenges with his freedom. Men and women who spend years in prison for crimes they do not commit must adapt to a changed world once released.

Picking up the pieces

It is fortunate that convicted individuals have avenues for assistance, such as criminal appeals and post-conviction relief. Inmates can challenge the evidence presented at trial in appeals and even present newfound evidence in court through post-conviction relief. These procedures give convicts the ability to prove their innocence. However, once released, it may not be easy to adjust to life outside of prison.

Men and women on parole receive housing and employment assistance, but exonerees like David might not get the same support. Innocent men and women who are released from prison due to issues such as detectives suppressing information are left to fend for themselves.

Difficulty adjusting to a new life

In David’s case, he must adapt to major changes after 18 years of imprisonment. The world changed dramatically since 2001 and he must completely start over. He has no money, no health insurance, no bank account, not even an ID card. David, who is now 50 years old, has no credit and no home.

Fortunately, his newlywed wife is at his side, helping him adjust to a new life. David’s longtime girlfriend, Pat, insisted on his innocence the duration of his incarceration. The two are now happily married.

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