FWTW Ep 3: Chester Hollman III’s Story & the Politics of Wrongful Conviction

From Words to Weapons Episode 3 focuses on Chester Hollman III, who spent nearly three decades in prison for a murder he didn’t commit, and the broader political fight over state-administered compensation for people who’ve been wrongfully convicted. A few years ago, Chester was the subject of a Netflix documentary; this episode picks up where that story left off. We talk with Chester about how he’s managing his mental health after being exonerated and now helping others rebuild their lives after prison. Through Chester’s post-incarceration story, we also unpack efforts and obstacles to support exonerees legislatively (fruitless thus far in Pennsylvania, among just a dozen states without wrongful conviction compensation laws) and politically (the Pa. GOP’s quest to oust Philly’s progressive district attorney was peaking while Chester was engaging with us for this podcast).

Links of interest:  

The Exoneree Health and Life Experiences (ExHaLE) study: Trauma exposure and mental health among wrongly convicted individuals.  

Race and Wrongful Convictions in the United States 

Pennsylvania State House Bill 1470 

Exonerated Justice ordinance and resolution before Philadelphia City Council 

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner impeachment:  
Commonwealth Court 
State Supreme Court   

The Prosecution: Wrong Place, Wrong Time (Netflix’s The Innocence Files, ep. 7) 

Report of the Advisory Committee on Wrongful Convictions (Pennsylvania Joint State Government Commission, 2011)