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'A Taste of Freedom' group helps exonerated prisoners get back to living life

It begins with compassion and a shared love of food.

CLEVELAND — A Taste of Freedom is a restaurant tour catering to men and women who have been wrongfully imprisoned and exonerated. At these events, the organizers help exonerees regain their palates for food, and also, so much more.

Recently, the group enjoyed a meal at Blu at the treat of its owner, Brad Friedlander. He said it's important to help a group like this.

"The opportunity to give to somebody who so much has been taken from...it's just the right thing to do," said Friedlander.

And for Kimberly Corral, the criminal defense attorney who’s overseen many of the cases in the room; the beauty of these dinners is beyond words.

"Selfishly, it's very rewarding to see your clients living their fullest lives," she said. "I had a guy get out in June, first thing we did is go out for sushi. And he's like, I've never even really been to a proper restaurant before."

And the food is only one part. The true purpose is much deeper. 

One of the things Taste of Freedom does is encourage exonerees to lean on one another to help each other get back on their feet after a life behind bars. That includes help with finances, among other things.

And it’s the hope to bridge resources that brought Brian Lewis and his social mortgage partner to the table.

"I stand behind what this whole exoneration movement is doing," he said. "I had a conversation earlier where I spoke to a gentlemen and he said, 'Hey, I just got out, my credit's not where it needs to be but I want to purchase a home. What can I do?' It's important because you never know what you can learn from one another," said Lewis.


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