Miles of Freedom: Background information when reading When Truth Is All You Have

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When Truth Is All You Have

A Memoir of Faith, Justice, and Freedom for the Wrongly Convicted

by Jim McCloskey, Philip Lerman

When Truth Is All You Have by Jim  McCloskey, Philip Lerman X
When Truth Is All You Have by Jim  McCloskey, Philip Lerman
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2020, 320 pages

    Paperback:
    Jun 2021, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
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About this Book

Miles of Freedom

This article relates to When Truth Is All You Have

Print Review

Miles of Freedom logoIn his memoir, When Truth Is All You Have, Jim McCloskey writes about several of the people his organization, Centurion, has helped free from prison after they were wrongfully convicted of serious crimes. Richard Miles, founder of the nonprofit Miles of Freedom, is one of those McCloskey helped to exonerate.

On May 16, 1994, Deandre Shay Williams and Robert Ray Johnson were shot while in their parked car at a gas station near Bachman, Texas. Richard Miles, six miles away from the site of the crime, was stopped by police as he walked home from the store and arrested because he fit the assailant's profile (i.e., he was a young, Black male). Based on false testimony, the 20-year-old was convicted of murder and attempted murder and sentenced to 60 years in prison for the shootings – crimes he didn't commit. Miles languished behind bars for more than a decade before his mother, Thelma Lloyd, approached McCloskey in 2008. McCloskey found concrete evidence of the man's innocence as well as prosecutorial misconduct and Miles was released from prison in 2009 after spending 15 years incarcerated. He was completely exonerated in 2012 and the State of Texas subsequently awarded him $1.2 million in compensation.

Miles quickly learned that there are few resources available to newly released prison inmates attempting to reassimilate into society. For the 15 years he was behind bars, all decisions were made for him; once back in the world, something as simple as choosing what to order for dinner at a restaurant was overwhelming. In addition, the world had moved on during that decade and a half. He had no knowledge of the internet or smartphones or how to use a computer upon his release, and he couldn't find a job. Fortunately, his mother was able to support him, but Miles knew others weren't so lucky.

Miles decided to use some of his compensation package to create a nonprofit organization that would help other former prisoners adjust to life back in society, and Miles of Freedom was born in 2012. In addition to featuring its founder's name, "MILES" is an acronym that illustrates the type of person the organization hopes to champion: Motivated, Inspired, Law-abiding, Enthusiastic, and Successful citizens. Operating out of South Dallas, the institution provides multiple services for the recently released and their families:

  • Reentry assistance services, including a three-month Job Readiness Workshop designed to "equip, empower and employ" those impacted by incarceration. This includes help in obtaining identification, securing housing and obtaining a job. They provide computer and career training, instruction in financial literacy, help with "soft skills" needed for the workplace such as sexual harassment and diversity awareness, resume building, and other basic life skills.
  • The Men/Women of Future program, which provides "mentorship for youth impacted by incarceration." The group supports both juveniles convicted of a crime and those whose family members are in prison.
  • Temporary employment through a landscaping service run by the organization that provides income until the individual can obtain another job.
  • A shuttle service that helps family members get to area jails to visit those who are imprisoned.

As of 2019, Miles of Freedom has helped more than 600 people get back on their feet after incarceration. Miles hopes that his organization will be used as a model for other communities, and that his story will inspire change in the judicial system. He was given the CNN Hero Award in 2019 for his efforts.

Miles of Freedom logo

Filed under Society and Politics

Article by Kim Kovacs

This "beyond the book article" relates to When Truth Is All You Have. It originally ran in August 2020 and has been updated for the June 2021 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

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