timberland mens A test of convictions
Chicago, Illinois (CNN) For Jewel Mitchell, it was the worst Christmas of her life, the pain so raw she secluded herself in her bedroom to shield her two young daughters.It was 1996, and the man she was supposed to marry the man her girls idolized had already been gone two years. But this Christmas, he was supposed to come home and pick up where they had left off:Walking Latoni and Latoya to school. Playing Chutes and Ladders with them on Friday nights. Taking their mother on dates to the lakefront to watch the waves of Lake Michigan dance.But Jewel’s fianc wasn’t returning to their home on Chicago’s South Side. Five days earlier, Dean Cage, had been sentenced to 40 years in prison for an aggravated sexual assault he said he didn’t commit. Jewel was his alibi. At the time of the attack, she said, he was asleep next to her.The day they’d planned to marry had come and gone with Dean in the Cook County Jail, unable to afford bond set at half a million dollars. When his trial date finally arrived just two months before this miserable Christmas Jewel listened to a young girl describe the man who brutally attacked her as she walked to her bus stop on a dark November morning. She was just 15.Those were difficult days for Jewel, but at least then she could still cling to the hope that the world would soon learn what she knew without a doubt: This was a case of mistaken identity.On the day of the verdict, family and co workers packed the courtroom to support a man who’d never been arrested before in his life. Jewel wore her best navy pantsuit and told her older brother: Today, my fianc is coming home.But the truth did not prevail. Two years after being arrested, Dean was declared guilty, and Jewel’s optimism was drained away,
her hope annihilated.She would put on a happy face to celebrate the holiday with her daughters. But the Christmas gifts she’d bought Dean, a boom box and a pair of black Timberland boots, lay on the bedroom floor, unopened.Behind the Scenes blog: Read the making of the story from reporter Stephanie Chen.Separated by bars, freedom lostIt is the most unlikely love story.When the world labeled her fianc guilty of a monstrous crime, Jewel refused to believe it. When the judge sentenced him to four decades in the Illinois penitentiary system, she stood by him.”I love him,” she would say. “It’s as simple as that. He was good to me and my girls. He’s a good man.”Ask a defense attorney how many clients profess innocence. Ask a prison warden how many inmates claim they are not guilty. The answer is the same: Denial is epidemic behind bars.”We get about 200 to 300 new letters a month” from prisoners who say they’ve been wrongly convicted, says one attorney at the Innocence Project, a national nonprofit that works to exonerate the innocent. Since its inception in 1992, the group has used DNA testing to overturn convictions of 244 inmates.By the time those prisoners won their freedom they had served an average of 12 years many had lost the bonds that would help them make a new life on the outside. One study shows marriages are three times more likely to fail when a man is incarcerated.There is no movie night or anniversary dinner when a boyfriend or husband is locked up. Even for women like Jewel, single minded about their loved one’s innocence, time tests the relationship. Women face emotional abandonment and the challenges of a long distance relationship. Sometimes financial responsibilities, the burden of single parenting and prejudice from outsiders drive them away.If Jewel stuck by Dean, she’d be the rare exception.Who would blame her if she simply moved on?A smile that lit up the roomThey met on an icy evening in Chicago in the winter of 1992. A crumpled scarf protected Jewel’s face from the sharp wind as she walked home from her job as a waitress at the historic Daley’s Restaurant. At her mother’s house, where 23 year old Jewel still lived,
she found a stranger playing a video game with her cousin.