One year after exoneration: Leon Benson returns for panel, celebration, and book launch!

Friday, March 8
6:00 – 9:00 pm
Indianapolis Liberation Center
1800 N. Meridian St., Suite 305
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Note: There are a limited number of seats available. Purchase and reserve yours now!

Leon Benson spent almost 25 years imprisoned–10 of them in solitary confinement, considered a human rights abuse by the international community–for the August 8, 1998 murder of Kasey Schoen in downtown Indianapolis. When he was 47-years-old, he walked out of the notorious Pendleton prison on March 9, 2023 as a free man, exonerated on all charges.

He spent over half his life locked up for a crime he didn’t commit because the police intentionally withheld evidence indicating another shooter and eyewitness testimony contradicting the narrative they wanted to frame. Now, for the first time since his exoneration, Benson returns to Indianapolis for a weekend of his “re-birth,” not to condemn those individuals who stole decades of his life and deprived his daughter, family, and our entire community of his beaming and positive presence, but to shed light on the countless others who are still locked up based on wrongful convictions.

In fact, as Benson makes his first public appearance since his liberation, he will be surrounded by Kolleen Schoen-Bunch, the sister of the man Benson was falsely charged with murdering, and a range of other voices. As of now, the first event in the two-day series includes:

  • Leon Benson, Exonoree;
  • Kolleen Schoen-Bunch, the sister of Kasey Schoen;
  • Kelly Bauder, Representative from the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office Conviction Integrity Unit;
  • Community organizations that fought for Benson’s release while the system turned a blind eye;
  • Relatives of the falsely imprisoned;
  • Charlie Keever-Nelson, attorney and professor of the University of San Francisco School of Law;
  • Derek R. Ford, Associate Professor and Chair of the Education Studies Department, Director of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program at DePauw University, Co-Coordinator of Free Shaka Shakur;
  • Dani Abdullah, a mental-health professional and Indianapolis Liberation Center organizer

The special event also serves as the official launch of Leon Benson’s first book publication, Letters of gratitude: I am because we are. Iskra Books, an independent scholarly publisher has worked non-stop over the past month to ensure physical copies of the book that Colin Jenkins, the Founder and Chief Editor of the Hampton Institute calls an embrace of “a selfless and thoughtful yearning for redeeming humanity through liberation to demonstrate prison bars can’t hold the spirit.” Learn more about the book here.


6:00: Doors open
6:45: Program starts
6:45-8:00: Panel
8:00-8:20:Presentations of awards/public acknowledgments
8:29-9:00: Food, drinks, photos, and socializing

Check out the second day here!