Friday, January 15, 2016


Jan. 10, 2016

Life After Death Row

Three unjustly convicted people who spent years in prison and then were exonerated tell Scott Pelley how they are adjusting to being free

The following is a script from "Life After Death Row" which aired on Jan. 10, 2016. Scott Pelley is the correspondent. Henry Schuster, producer.

About 10 times a month now, an innocent person is freed from an American prison. They're exonerated, sometimes after decades, because of new evidence, new confessions or the forensic science of DNA.

There is joy the day that justice arrives, but we wondered, what happens the day after? You're about to meet three people who have returned to life from unjust convictions. One of them, Ray Hinton, was on death row. He remembers, too vividly, the Alabama electric chair and the scent that permeated the cell block when a man was met by 2,000 volts. Hinton waited his turn for nearly 30 years until this past April.


on death row, Hinton spent most of every day, alone.


Scott Pelley: What did the State of Alabama give you to help you get back up on your feet?

Ray Hinton: They dropped all charges and that was it.

Scott Pelley: No money?

Ray Hinton: No.

Scott Pelley: No suit of clothes?

Ray Hinton: Nothing. No.

And that is where many states are failing the growing number of exonerated prisoners. It turns out in Alabama if Ray Hinton had committed murder and was released on parole, he would have been eligible for job training, housing assistance and a bus ticket home. But most states offer no immediate help to the innocent who's convictions can be embarrassing because of misconduct or incompetence by police or prosecutors.


Ken Ireland: It was just absolutely unimaginable and I couldn't even explain the horror of it.

Ken Ireland lost 21 years. He was misidentified by witnesses who collected a $20,000 reward. Convicted in a 1986 rape and murder, DNA proved his innocence.


One thing that made it easier was Connecticut's new law that compensates the wrongly convicted. A year ago, Ireland was the first to get a check.

Scott Pelley: What did the state give you?

Ken Ireland: Six million dollars.


Ken Ireland: That's more than most states are giving.

Scott Pelley: Well it comes to something like 300,000 dollars a year for every year you spent in prison. And you say it's not worth it?

Ken Ireland: Oh, absolutely not. Absolutely not. They could give me five million for every year and it still wouldn't be worth it.

Ken Ireland was fortunate, if you can call it that. Twenty states offer no compensation at all, one, is Julie Baumer's home, Michigan.


Scott Pelley: Other than the time, what have you lost?

Julie Baumer: Everything. Everything. My life is nothing as it was.

In 2003, Baumer was a mortgage broker raising her sister's baby. He became ill so she took him to an emergency room. Doctors there suspected the boy had been shaken until his brain was damaged. Baumer was convicted of child abuse. She was in her fifth year in prison when new evidence showed that the boy had suffered a natural stroke. She was retried, acquitted and the judge apologized. After she was released, for a time, she was homeless.

Scott Pelley: How did you start over?

Julie Baumer: It was very, very, very rough. You start from the bottom reclaiming your identity. I didn't have an ID. And then after I jumped over that hurdle, then you start applying for jobs. And then you have to go through OK, well, now there's a five gap-- year gap on your résumé. Why is this? And then you tell your potential employer the truth. In my case, I never got phone calls back.

Scott Pelley: There was no support for you of any kind.

Julie Baumer: No.

Julie now works for a Detroit-area parish. In her spare time she's lobbying Michigan's legislature for a compensation law.

Julie Baumer: No amount of money can ever bring back everything that I've lost.

Scott Pelley: No one can fail to see the injustice in these cases. But when it comes to compensation, there are people watching this interview who are saying, "You know, it was just bad luck and we don't necessarily owe them for the life that they lost."

Bryan Stevenson: This isn't luck, this was a system, this was actually our justice system, it was our tax dollars who paid for the police officers who arrested Mr. Hinton. Our tax dollars that paid for the judge and the prosecutor that prosecuted him. That paid for the experts who got it wrong. That paid to keep him on death row for 30 years for a crime he didn't commit. This has nothing to do with luck. This has everything to do with the way we treat those who are vulnerable in our criminal justice system.


Of course, they did take Ray Hinton's life. A false conviction isn't about lost time; it's the loss of an education, a marriage, the chance to start a family, settle into a job and build a pension. The only thing Alabama didn't take was the breath from his body.


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