Life after justice
Life After Justice (LAJ) is a nonprofit organization that works to achieve justice for the wrongfully convicted and assists exonerees in rebuilding their lives. Their vision is a society that does not sacrifice innocence because of a legislative system that promotes legal injustice, racial prejudice, and economic inequality through the laws it creates.
LAJ’s approach is distinct in that it targets cases of innocent individuals that have no DNA evidence and who are convicted by intrinsic flaws within the legal and legislative system. LAJ’s post-exoneration programs focus on the holistic healing of exonerees – those with lived experience – and their families and communities which support them.
Chicago Beyond’s $3 million investment in LAJ is significant to the organization, which has been operating on a volunteer basis, with no other institutional funding, since 2012. The partnership will allow LAJ to hire full-time staff and actualize its organizational vision.
Currently, LAJ is bringing awareness to a case in Virginia and requesting that President Joe Biden grant clemency and exonerate Terrence Richardson and Ferrone Claiborne. Richardson and Claiborne have served more than 20 years in federal prison for the 1998 murder of Alan Gibson, a Waverly, Virginia police officer, despite a federal jury finding them not guilty of the crime. To learn more about the case and clemency petition, please click here.
The new partnership builds on Chicago Beyond’s Justice Initiatives, a commitment that focuses on strategies to reduce incarceration and increase safety in all communities – including the ones behind the correctional walls – because of both the magnitude of people impacted and the collective trauma of the status quo. Last year, Chicago Beyond became LAJ’s first institutional funder when they received resources from Chicago Beyond’s Rapid Response Fund, which provided clients access to therapy and new technology and supported hiring an assistant to manage their day-to-day functions.