What does it feel like to be imprisoned for a crime you did not do? After Innocence documents the stories of seven prisoners who were exonerated and set free. Scott Hornoff, a Rhode Island police detective, spent six years in prison for first-degree murder; Calvin Willis was in a Louisiana prison for 22 years on a rape charge; and Dennis Maher, a former army sergeant from Massachusetts, was convicted of rape and imprisoned for 19 years. There is no shortage of heartbreaking footage. Four months after leaving prison, Dennis is still sleeping on a pullout sofa in his parents’ house. Calvin struggles to get a GED and find paying work. Scott goes to court to get his job back as well as his pension and back pay; he wins, but then the police department appeals the judge’s decision.
These men were forgotten while they were locked up, and they are forgotten again on the outside. Most receive no money and no help. They struggle to rebuild their lives and to undo the soul-destroying effects of prison. One pounds on a punching bag to release his rage; another pursues a degree in psychology. After Innocence is both riveting and disturbing. Each man’s story reminds us how fallible our legal system is—and each raises the question: How many other innocent people are still locked up?