Life After DNA Exoneration

After 27 years in prison, DNA exoneree Charles Chatman tries to pick up the pieces and catch up with a world that has left him behind

But Chatman, as he has several times in recent weeks, explains that if anyone's responsible for the deterioration of their relationship, it's him. His niece and other women in his family sent him letters, but he withdrew from them and stopped responding.

"I always had this nagging thought—do they believe me?" he says. "Every time I saw them or talked to them, I'd try to read what they said, what was in their eyes. It's a real battle. Did they believe me? I don't know."

What he does know is that he is loved, which may help him through the difficult times that lie ahead. He says he wants to take auto mechanic classes and help the Innocence Project vet the claims of other convicts. Who better than him to detect when someone is lying or shading the truth?

He says he still has hard days, days when he thinks about all he has gone through and tries to make sense out of why it happened. But then he looks at his new apartment and his new furniture, and he steps outdoors, because he can. "I tell my family that I don't want to dwell on the past because they have been through a lot too—and God blessed us. So why should we rain on our own parade?"

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