This Prisonward story has been taking over my mind. I wrote 11 chapters in one week. I'm going to post once a week, and not let it interrupt my other two stories.
MarieCarro made the creepy-cool banner.
All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of S. Meyer. The original plot is the only thing that belongs to me. No copyright infringement is intended.
Credit always goes to SarcasticBimbo for her beta and pre-reader skills, and to coppertopj55, starsmina and rebadams7 for pre-reading. I had a special pre-reader for this one who is a correctional officer. Thank you so much dazzled-masochistic-lamb for making sure the prison portions were accurate. That being said, I earned my law degree at Google University, so while I tried to make it realistic, there are bound to be mistakes.
Ex Delicto ~ "from a transgression"; indicating the consequence of a crime.
As I rushed from the courthouse to grab a sandwich from a street vendor, the phone in my bag pinged with a message. Juggling my briefcase, food, and phone, I managed to pull up the text. I scanned it quickly before dropping my phone into my outer purse pocket. It would have to wait.
When my busy day at the office was finally over, I pulled up the text from that afternoon and dialed the number to the IPNW. After the receptionist put me through to the director, I cradled my office phone between my ear and shoulder while I shut down my computer.
"Lara, it's Bella. What's with this new case? You know how I feel about SA cons." I listened to her remind me about all the signs we look for in an application before agreeing to help.
"So Mommy Dearest says he's innocent, and would never hurt a fly? If they have money, why did you accept?"
My eyes widened at her response, then I sighed. "I have a block of time on Thursday evening. Just to be clear, if I don't like what I read tonight, I'm not accepting."
I jotted down the initial info, knowing she'd email the case file immediately. When we hung up, I finished putting my papers into my bag and left the office.
It was dark out as I pulled into my parking garage, and the only thing I could think about was getting inside to change clothes and pour a glass of wine. When I had done both, and a frozen dinner was revolving in the microwave, I booted up my laptop on the dining room table.
The email included attachments with his application, which had been filled out by his mother. All of their money had been used to appeal his conviction, and they were now broke. Ten years worth of legal battles, and their son was still incarcerated.
Knowing that parents often felt their children were perfect angels incapable of doing wrong, I turned to the original case files. Eyewitnesses were heavily relied on, but they were all drunk frat boys, and the victim that thought she remembered dancing with the accused. There had been DNA that was grossly mishandled, but still upheld throughout the appeals process. All in all, perfect for the IPNW.
It looked like I'd be making another trip to prison.
The microwave beeped, and I put everything away, hoping to decompress. Instead, I found myself drawn to the files of the man about my age, who had been sitting in a cell for ten years for something he might not have done. I normally waited to get a feel at the first visit, and I never accepted sexual assault cases.
This one had hooked me, though, and my mind continuously drifted back to the letter his mother included with his application. I had to go, needed to meet him and make the decision. I pictured a wrongly accused 19 year old, sentenced to 15 years in prison when he knew he was entirely innocent.
Then I pictured him being released in five years, having to register as an offender and not being able to get a job or a place to live.
Sighing heavily, I picked up my phone and looked at my schedule for tomorrow afternoon. I needed to see what I could do about this one and get the ball rolling before he spent another unnecessary day in that hellhole.
Coffee was a necessity of life. It gave life, especially when I was up all night with a case that I should have let rest. I honestly did not have time for it today, but whenever I got the call that another case was next in line, it tended to grab me and force me to prioritize it. It wasn't the fault of the inmates that they were trying to get their convictions overturned at the same time that I had a full workload.
I had been working with the Innocence Project Northwest since law school, first as part of my case studies, and then as a volunteer after I graduated and passed the bar. Working as an associate in a large firm had mostly been grunt work, but I'd been there for three years already and things were looking positive for a promotion.
I finished as much work as I could manage before I ran out of time. The Olympic Corrections Center was more than a three hour drive, which was a headache all by itself. If I accepted this case, I'd have to schedule all in-person meetings on the weekends. As it was, this was going to be one long as hell day.
OCC is minimum security, nestled in the Olympic mountains quite South of it's address of Forks. The exterior was less industrial looking; low buildings with brown roofs that you could almost pretend was something more like a high school. Until you realized how heavily fenced with barbed wire it was. When I was let in I would request prison records, and the C.O. normally had them ready by the time I left. This was not my first time here, merely my first time visiting with inmate 285536.
The first buzzer sounded, and I pushed through the door to meet the C.O. on the other side. I left all of my belongings at the window, and the lovely Ms. Cope gave me a ticket with a corresponding number on it. I heard the sound of the second buzzer, and the C.O. and I went through the next door. I tuned out my surroundings and only focused on my breathing, the in and out as the walls tried to close in around me. I closed my eyes briefly, still breathing slow and steady. I opened them at the sound of the radio crackling on the officer's shoulder.
"That's him," he said to me, as though I didn't hear what the disembodied voice had just said.
He showed me to the interview room, and he was there already. Cuffed to the table, wearing a denim button down with his inmate number stitched over the heart. His hair was short and dark, too short to tell if it had ever glowed blonde in the sunlight, before all of this happened. His eyes were guarded, even hostile as he stared me down. I fought back a shiver.
There was the sudden feeling that I was in the wrong room; surely the anger I felt rolling off this man meant he was the wrong guy.
"I'm Isabella Swan, with the Innocence Project." I looked down at my notes. "You're Edward Cullen?"
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