Free Men: A Journey To Death Row, And Back


*By the way, SouthLAnd was given high praise in the Chicago Tribune yesterday. I, and The Graveyard Shift shift were also mentioned in the article. Please take a moment to read the article (click the link below) and while there, show your love for The Graveyard Shift and SouthLAnd by posting a comment. Thanks!

Chicago Tribune SouthLAnd article

6 replies
  1. Gerrie Ferris Finger
    Gerrie Ferris Finger says:

    Thanks for an excellent post. We in the newspaper business have heard of this often, especially at the dawn of the DNA age. I guess there will always be those that slip through the judicial cracks and that’s not acceptable.

  2. SNAB
    SNAB says:

    I watch Southland regularly and marvel at its poetic simplicity. The theme song is perfect–I can almost taste the dust in my mouth from a dry SoCal day. I look forward to every episode.

  3. Polly Iyer
    Polly Iyer says:

    Very timely post, Lee. The other morning, I received an extremely well-written email from Cheryl Naill, the woman who lives with one of the men mentioned in this blog post, Ray Krone. I received permission from her to post this, as I didn’t want to capitalize on someone else’s grief, nor did I want to sound self-serving.

    Cheryl had just finished reading my book, Murder Déjà Vu, about a man who was released from prison after serving fifteen years for a crime he didn’t commit. My character was freed on a technicality; Ray was the 100th person exonerated by DNA. Even after being free for ten years, Ray still suffers from the residual effects of his time there, which included three years on death row. Ray now works for Witness to Innocence, (WTI), a non-profit organization that serves to empower exonerated death row survivors and their family members.

    The email served a double purpose for me. Yes, I got the emotional experience of my character right?something every writer strives for?but it also served to remind me that men, and women too, are still being convicted for crimes they didn’t commit for as many reasons as there are people involved. Last year Ray and Cheryl got the opportunity to meet a juror from Ray’s first trial, the one that ended with him being sentenced to death. The juror’s wife told them how he’d had trouble sleeping since the day Ray’s exoneration was on the news. He couldn’t get over the fact that he had played a part in sentencing an innocent man to die. The victim’s mother came to Ray and apologized after the court hearing that freed him, tears running down her face and saying “I only knew what they (the prosecution) told me.” Now she carries the guilt of calling him a monster and supporting his execution.

    Unfortunately, there are still innocent people in prison. Some will never be released; some will die at the hands of the state. I applaud Ray for turning his harrowing experience into something positive for those, like him, who have been emotionally scarred by the injustices of the system. Witness to Innocence needs the support of more than just the people affected by wrongful convictions. I hope the group gets it. Learn more on their Facebook page and on their website:

  4. SZ
    SZ says:

    Oh so many questions !
    First of all, have you ever thought of teaching ? Love the symbols for easy charting. That said, when is your next book coming out ?!

    What is the difference, and what would be best for your record ? Acquitted, charges dismissed, exonerated, pardoned . . .
    Believe it or not, everything on google is not a 100% true (gasp)

    How and what determines if they receive a financial settlement ?

    Ronald Jones gets charges dismissed after 10 years ! Is it the misconduct ? A better lawyer then Ronald Williamson, who also had misconduct ?

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