Exhibit highlights first 24 hours ex-offenders spend free

a pair of handcuffsThe College of Nursing will host a reception for an exhibit, “Free Again: The First 24 Hours,” Feb. 26, showcasing the experience of 15 ex-offenders — from their last day in prison to their first 24 hours back in the community.

The reception takes place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the College of Nursing’s first floor lobby, 845 S. Damen Ave. The exhibit, which includes written narrative and photography, is on display from Feb. 25-28.

The College of Nursing has partnerships with several correctional facilities. The college’s commitment to aiding this community was the motivation for the exhibition, said Geraldine Gorman, clinical associate professor in the College of Nursing.

Of the 15 ex-offenders featured in the exhibit, four were wrongfully convicted and eight were sentenced before the age of 18 to life without the possibility of parole (later resentenced by the Supreme Court). All 15 served more than 20 years in prison.

“This exhibit can help raise awareness among the population for how often people are sent away for crimes they did not commit,” Gorman said. “Even if someone was rightfully convicted, this event will show how very little they are different from ourselves, our families and our loved ones.”

Two of the ex-offenders, Orlando Mayorga and Fred Weatherspoon, will be present at the exhibition to share their stories.

“The more we understand them [ex-offenders], the better equipped we are to change the conditions in our communities that give rise to people being incarcerated in the first place,” Gorman said.

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