WBEZ's "Exoneree Diaries" on Exoneration Project Client James Kluppelberg

Exoneree Diaries: James Kluppelberg's fight for freedom

THEY CALLED IT the M&M shop, like the chocolate candy. It was Menard Correctional Center’s maintenance department, the one responsible for doing repairs throughout the maximum-security prison. For James, it meant something to do, time away from his cell, where he would otherwise spend 23 hours a day, every day.

He had always been a good handy man, so he fixed everything from plumbing to carpentry. It took his mind off his fate of being told when to shower and when to eat for the rest of his life – six times over, if that were possible. Six life sentences...

But in 2008 on a gray, dank day, he had three visitors: Chicago attorney Gayle Horn, who ran a new clinic called the Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago Law School, and two students, whom she had assigned to his case.

CADENCE AND ASHLEY were third-year law students who seldom used the small annex off the law school designated for the new Exoneration Project clinic in 2008. Instead, they were out in the field, investigating. Lawyers call this the fact-finding stage.

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