Posts Tagged ‘Conviction’


Binge-Worthy Media of the Innocence World

Victoria Inzana — October 18, 2017 @ 1:00 PM — Comments (0)

“I think people love monsters. And so when they get the chance, they want to see them.” -Amanda Knox

For decades, people have been obsessed with those who commit crimes, particularly crimes which are gory, bloody, terrible, and awful. This fascination has never faded, and although it remains, it has been joined by a new and equally enchanting topic. This new topic is Innocence Media. Those who have been wrongfully convicted and exonerated have garnered a new type of appeal from crime-show lovers. In the past, movies such as The Hurricane, or more recently the Netflix series, “Making a Murderer”, have been the shows to watch. Fortunately for the Innocence community, and those who advocate for those who have been wrongfully convicted, there are a number of new media outlets which feed the curiosity about those who are wrongfully convicted, their advocates, and flaws in the criminal justice system.

Movies

 

Amanda Knox

This documentary follows the exoneration of Amanda Knox who was convicted for the murder of Knox’s roommate Meredith Kercher. This documentary includes interviews with the prosecution and investigative team on the Knox case, along with Knox and Sollecito themselves. It can be streamed on Netflix.

If you’d like to view the trailer, click here.

13th

Although this documentary is not focused on exoneration or the wrongfully convicted, it’s focus is on the flaws of the justice system in general, specifically relating to race. It also has a focus on the current era of Mass Incarceration, as well as how politics play a role in each movement surrounding the justice system. It can be streamed on Netflix.

If you’d like to view the trailer, click here.

Crown Heights

Crown Heights (2017)

This movie follows the true story of exoneree Colin Warner who was convicted of murder. Throughout this process, Warner also had his friend Carl King, and wife to support him along the way.  The importance of this film is to denote that wrongful convictions are still an ongoing problem in our country and to raise awareness about them.

It is currently not available to stream because it was just released to theaters. The image below has a list of cities with theaters who have showings. If you would like to view more information about the movie,  please follow them on twitter at @CrownHeightsMOV.

If you would like to view the trailer, please click here.

TV Shows

The Confession Tapes

This television show has a focus on false confessions and is available through Netflix. Each episode (with the exception of the first two which are about the same case) explores a different case where a defendant was pressured into giving a false confession by the police though verbal abuse and aggressive interrogation techniques. Each episode causes you to question whether you would give a false confession yourself.

You can view the trailer by clicking here.

Conviction

Conviction is a fiction-based television show so it’s better for those looking for something a little more lighthearted while sacrificing accuracy. It is about a team of people, led by the daughter of the former president, who investigate cases of those who may be wrongfully convicted. ABC broadcasted this television for only one season, and it is no longer available to watch on their website or on Hulu. However, you can still buy it on Amazon. If you are interested, you can buy it here.

If you would like to view the trailer, click here.

Unlocking the Truth

This show, created by MTV, is hosted by exoneree Ryan Ferguson and his co-host Eva, who has had previous experience in wrongful conviction cases. Their goal throughout the series is to find the “truth”. It is not to exonerate someone, but instead to investigate cases to see if a defendant is actually innocent, and if evidence proves that they are innocent, they deliver that material to the proper authority (usually their lawyers). This television show is quite interesting, I was able to watch the first episode via youtube. If you would like to view all episodes, you can purchase them on Amazon by clicking here.

To view the trailer, click here.

Podcasts

To be clear, there are many podcasts on wrongful conviction, flaws in the criminal justice system, the criminal justice system in general, and crime. However, these are a few of our personal favorites.

Serial

This podcast currently has two seasons. Each season, the host, Sarah Koenig, follows a single case, from beginning to end. The first season deals with the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, a high school girl in Baltimore. Her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed, was convicted for her murder. The second season is about the return of American soldier Bowe Bergdahl after his imprisonment by the Taliban. Many of his fellow soldiers believe that he deserted the team and deserved his fate. Koenig attempts to figure out whether he deserted in the second season.

If you would like to listen to Serial, please click here. You can also access the podcast from Apple Podcasts, or however you access your podcasts.

Undisclosed

In this podcast, each season explores a new case with a team of experts who investigate cases in which they believe the defendant was wrongfully convicted. After each season is an “addenda” which goes a little more in-depth about each case and its conclusion. They are also currently working on two seasons simultaneously. As the investigators discuss how they obtained their evidence, case facts, and interviews, they are investigating the cases in real time. This makes the listener feel as if they are investigating the case with the team.

If you would like to listen to Undisclosed, please click here. You can also access the podcast from Apple Podcasts, or wherever else you listen from!

 

Actual Innocence

This podcast is extremely different compared to the other two we have mentioned. This podcast is unique because it doesn’t have seasons. It has only episodes, and currently has over 300. However, it doesn’t matter which episode you start on with this podcast because no two episodes cover the same case. Each episode is a different case told by each exoneree. They explain the problems with their cases, their emotions through the process, and the eventual conclusion of each of their cases. This allows the listener to grasp the full impact of a wrongful conviction. These aren’t just names on a paper, fictional people, or a rarity. These are real people who have been wronged in one of the worst ways our society could have wronged them.

 

If you would like to listen to Actual Innocence, click here. You can also access the podcast on Apple Podcasts or other podcast apps!

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Louisiana’s Longest Death Row Prisoner Exonerated

Alejandra de la Fuente — March 21, 2014 @ 10:38 AM — Comments (0)

Glenn Ford became a free man last week after being on death row for 30 years, making him the longest serving death row prisoner in Louisiana.

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Ford was exonerated after the real killer confessed to the murder that happened three decades ago to an unidentified informant, who then came forward to investigators. Ford says the hardest part about his imprisonment was the fact that he can’t do things that he should have been doing at 35, 40, and 45, like being there when his grandchildren were born. This is over half of his life he cannot just take back.

Glenn Ford became Louisiana’s 10th death row exoneration and is also one of the longest serving death row prisoners in the United States.

Congratulations Glenn, and we hope you take this chance to reconnect with old friends and family, as well as your new ones.

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Celebrating 10 Years of Freeing the Innocent

Alejandra de la Fuente — April 02, 2013 @ 8:03 AM — Comments (0)

  Meet Betty Anne Waters, real life heroine of the movie Conviction, at Steppin’ Out with the Innocence Project of Florida in Miami on April 5th

TALLAHASSEE, FL (March 28, 2013) — For ten years the Innocence Project of Florida (IPF) has fought to free innocent people who have been wrongfully convicted and imprisoned, often for decades. On April 5, 2013, at Miami’s Four Seasons Hotel, the statewide organization will celebrate its 10th anniversary with its annual fundraising event, Steppin’ Out with the Innocence Project of Florida.  This year’s theme is Wrongful Convictions: A Family Matter.

“Wrongful convictions leave a tragic impact on more than the individuals who are sent to prison,” said Seth Miller, IPF’s Executive Director. “They can be devastating for families who lose their loved ones.”

The evening’s special guest, Betty Anne Waters, who inspired the movie Conviction, will receive the Frank Lee Smith Innocence Award, named for Florida’s first DNA exoneree who died on death row 11 months before the State agreed to his testing in 2000. Ms. Waters spent many years obtaining both a college and law degree so she could prove her brother’s innocence. She will be recognized for her inspirational work and continued efforts to correct injustices caused by wrongful convictions.

Also in attendance will be William Michael Dillon, Florida DNA exoneree and recording artist, who will perform several original songs written during the 27.5 years he spent wrongfully imprisoned before his release in 2008.

The public is invited to join the Innocence Project of Florida at the Four Seasons Hotel in Miami on April 5, 2013, at 6 p.m. for cocktails, a silent auction, dinner and an opportunity to meet several of the men released through DNA testing.

“Our goal is to celebrate these men who have been exonerated and the families who stood by them,” said David Rothman, Miami attorney and IPF’s board chairman.

For more information about IPF, or to purchase tickets for Steppin’ Out, visit their website at www.floridainnocence.org or contact Jackie Pugh at jpugh@floridainnocence.org You can also pre-bid on several auction items online at IPF’s web site.

About the Innocence Project of Florida

Last year IPF processed more than 1,000 requests for assistance from inmates and their families. They are currently litigating dozens of cases with hundreds more in various stages of review and investigation. Proceeds from Steppin’ Out will provide critical funding for litigation efforts, including staff attorneys, document collection and review, investigation, expert witnesses and DNA testing.

While IPF’s primary goal is to find and free innocent people in Florida’s prisons, the organization has also worked with the state’s legislature to address issues important to the wrongfully convicted. In 2006, IPF successfully advocated to remove a mandatory deadline for filing post-conviction DNA claims.

The 2006 law also extended the right to post-conviction DNA testing to those who had pled guilty, a tacit acknowledgment that some pleas are for reasons having nothing to do with guilt. Many enter pleas to avoid harsher sentences such as life without parole or the death penalty, and some falsely confess due to mental impairment or an inability to withstand lengthy interrogations.

In 2008, IPF’s advocacy helped pass a compensation bill that provides $50,000 for each year of wrongful incarceration, full tuition for a college or university in Florida, expungement of the wrongful criminal record and refund of fines and attorney’s fees, if any, associated with the wrongful conviction. As of today, three individuals have been compensated under the law, including DNA exonerees, James Bain and Luis Diaz.

“The money I received has helped me rebuild my life and move on from my wrongful conviction,” said James Bain, an innocent Florida man who spent 35 years behind bars.

Florida has released 13 men after DNA testing proved their innocence. These men collectively spent 259 years in prison for crimes they did not commit.

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Inspiration to All: Betty Anne Waters to Receive the Frank Lee Smith Innocence Award

Alejandra de la Fuente — March 12, 2013 @ 9:54 AM — Comments (1)

Betty Anne Waters, Kenneth Waters on day he was exonerated.Not many lives inspire a full-length movie. However, Betty Anne Waters’s did.

Her life and her brother’s wrongful conviction inspired the 2010 movie, Conviction. After Kenneth “Kenny” Waters was wrongfully convicted in 1983 for the 1980 murder of Katherina Brow in Ayers, Massachusetts, Betty Anne pursued a college and law degree into order to exonerate her brother. A NY Times article, entitled “From Waitress to Brother’s Savior, Then Hollywood Hero,” describes her story:

“Ms. Waters had only a job as a waitress, her high school equivalency, two kids and a stack of bills when she set out to rescue her brother Kenneth Waters, who served 18 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. Now she has a college degree, a law degree and the stunning achievement of having succeeded, after nearly two decades, in overturning her brother’s conviction.”

On April 5th, we will present the Frank Lee Smith Innocence Award to Ms. Waters for her inspirational work and dedication to correct injustices caused by wrongful convictions at our annual Steppin’ Out gala.

“We recognize that wrongful convictions impact many lives – not just those who are sent to prison, but their families too.” said Seth Miller, Executive Director of the Innocence Project of Florida,  “Kenny’s wrongful conviction took Betty Anne’s life in a very different direction.”

This award is named in honor of Frank Lee Smith, Florida’s first DNA exoneree. Sadly, Frank Lee Smith died of cancer on death row 11 months before the State of Florida agreed to DNA testing. It was his struggle and persistence that in part led to the passage of Florida’s post-conviction DNA testing law and the formation of the Innocence Project of Florida.

Today, Betty Anne lives in Bristol, Rhode Island, and works as the general manager of a pub. She works to help the Innocence Project spread the word about wrongful convictions by speaking out about her story.

 


To purchase tickets for Steppin’ Out click on the “buy tickets” button. BuyTicketsbutton

 

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The Real. The Authentic. The Bona Fide.

Alejandra de la Fuente — May 10, 2012 @ 9:48 AM — Comments (0)

While many of us might enjoy the cerebral pleasures that films may bring into our busy—and sometimes over-extended—lives, we, typically, are not privy to the real-world, everyday realities of what goes on in courtrooms, jails, prisons and associated legal institutions across the nation, unless, of course, we are professionally associated with a specific legal case (or cases).

Our lives are most often not directly affected with the burdens associated with individuals incarcerated in county, state and/or federal facilities. Some of the quiet mantras or prejudices those of us on the “outside” may sometimes harbor might suggest a private, subtle reservation: those on the “inside” most likely engaged the act for which they have been imprisoned. No Questions Asked.  End of Story.

With the influx of cable television and “reality” shows, and cable programming’s prominent place in our living rooms, viewers are sometimes left to decipher the good, the bad and the ugly from the fictional, false and artificial.

Herewith are ten solid films and programs which address real, authentic and bona fide matters of wrongful convictions, false imprisonment, eyewitness identification, recantations, forensic evidence, prosecutorial misconduct and related issues:

  • The Exonerated (2006): Starring Danny Glover, Susan Sarandon and Aidan Quinn. The film tells the story of six individuals who were exonerated after being sentenced to death. (The film is Court-TV’s film version of the play of the same name.)
  • Conviction (2010): Starring Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell. “Conviction” presents the true-life story of a woman determined to prove her brother’s innocence for a crime for which he has been falsely convicted.
  •  American Justice: Programs include “Lying Eyes” (2001); “Another Man’s Crimes” (2007); “The Green Beret Murder Mystery” (2000). Bill Kurtis serves as the show’s host.
  • Dead Men Talking (1998): The program covers the National Conference on Wrongful Conviction and the Death Penalty. The show includes a discussion with Barry Scheck, Rolando Cruz, Dennis Williams, and Kirk Bloodsworth.
  • After Innocence (2005): After Innocence tells the dramatic and compelling story of the exonerated – innocent men wrongfully imprisoned for decades and then released after DNA evidence proved their innocence. Focusing on the gripping stories of seven men, including a police officer, an army sergeant and a young father that were sent to prison for decades – in some cases death row – for crimes they did not commit, After Innocence explores the emotional journeys these men face when thrust back into society with little or no support from the system that put them behind bars.
  • ABC (Prime Time): False Confessions (2006): The program focuses on the phenomenon of false confessions and interrogation tactics that can lead people to confess to crimes they did not commit. The cases of John Restivo, Dennis Halstead, and John Kogut, who were exonerated through DNA evidence in New York.
  • Murder on a Sunday Morning (2001): This Oscar-winning documentary follows the defense case of an African American teenager wrongly accused of robbing and murdering a white tourist in Florida. The film focuses on racism and misconduct in the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
  • The Trials of Darryl Hunt (2006): The story of Darryl Hunt’s decades-long fight for justice after being wrongfully convicted of rape and murder. The film follows Hunt’s multiple appeals and chronicles the police misconduct that contributed to the 20 years Hunt spent in prison for a crime he did not commit. The documentary was short-listed for an Academy Award for best documentary.
  • Dallas DNA (2009): A program presented by Investigation Discovery highlights the Conviction Integrity Unity, a division of the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office dedicated to clearing innocent inmates through post-conviction DNA testing.
  • A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life (2011): A film by Werner Herzog, the documentary tells the story of two death row inmates in the United States. Conversations were filmed at the prison facilities in Livingston and Huntsville, Texas, with the accused: Michael Perry and Jason Burkett. Herzog maintains that he doesn’t present a position on the issue of the death penalty, but he does have “a story to tell.”

Many of these videos are available for purchase through this website along with several books also dealing with wrongful conviction from amazon.com. A portion of the proceeds are returned to IPF. Click here to review and purchase.

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Exoneration, Compensation & Reforms – National News Round-up

Alejandra de la Fuente — August 05, 2011 @ 4:26 PM — Comments (1)

It’s no new trial in 20-year-old rape case and the first exoneration for Hawaii Innocence Project. Lila Fujimoto of The Maui News reports it was high fives all around as charges were dismissed against a wrongfully convicted man. Alvin Francis Jardine III served 20 years for the 1990 knife-point rape of a woman in her Haiku home until newly tested DNA evidence showed otherwise.

Said one of Jardine’s attorneys, William Harrison, “Everybody was ecstatic. Obviously, Alvin is overjoyed over the dismissal, as well as the whole Innocence Project. We have put a lot of time in this case because of Alvin, because we believe in him and believed in his cause. We believe it is a case of actual innocence.”

First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Robert Rivera, however, is not so sure.”We do not feel that the DNA evidence in any way exonerates the defendant,” he said. Rivera asserted that the prosecutor’s office decided to seek the dismissal after talking with the victim. “We did meet with her a couple of times,” Rivera said. “She, in turn, consulted with her own family. We made the determination that it would be in the best interests of the victim not to go forward and retraumatize her through a fourth trial 20 years after he’s already been convicted.

Florida’s James Bain currently holds a record no one would want. He served more time behind bars as an innocent man than any other wrongfully convicted exoneree…35 years for the rape and kidnapping of a nine-year-old boy until DNA evidence proved he didn’t commit the crime. Released in 2009, Bain refuses to let his time in prison hinder his enjoyment of the rest of his life.

Florida Innocence Project Executive Director Seth Miller notes that Bain has adjusted “remarkably well” to his new unconfined life although … “he will always have a lot of catching up to do.”

Bain recently got a boost to that enjoyment having recently received $1.75 million in compensation from Florida for his wrongful conviction. Bain said that, while there’s not enough money in the world to pay him back for time lost, it will help his future. He’s working to earn his GED so he can find work according to Ray Reyes in The Tampa Tribune.

“It will never be enough,” Bain said. “But what I do have at my disposal helps a lot when it comes to taking care of me and my family.”

Bain has purchased a brand new home and plans to wed his girlfriend in September with the added opportunity of being a stepfather to her young daughter reports Jason Geary at NewsChief.com.

Kudos to the Massachusetts State Senate for taking on court reorganization and DNA testing reforms.

On court reforms. TheDailyLeicester.com quotes State Senator Michael Moore. “The Senate last week addressed a number of vital issues that had been lingering for some time,” Moore said. “The court reorganization will generate cost-savings and ensure equity and transparency in the hiring of court personnel. Finally, critical progress was made by the Senate regarding… the use of DNA evidence.”

The article notes, “The court reorganization legislation establishes a civilian court administrator to run the general administration of the Trial Court and brings transparency to hiring and promotion practices at the Department of Probation. Under the legislation, the civilian Court Administrator will be responsible for the general administration of the Trial Court, including reviewing and approving the hiring of non-judicial employees, administering appropriations and expenditures, negotiating contracts and leases, and any other inherently non-judicial administrative functions.

The Court Administrator will also be required to identify core administrative functions and create cost-savings and efficiencies by consolidating certain administrative activities of the various departments of the Trial Court.

On DNA. Finally, Massachusetts became the 49th state to allow defendants to obtain and test evidence after conviction for use in seeking a new trial. The bill, which was developed with the input of current and former prosecutors, police officials, defense attorneys and judges, would help exonerate wrongfully-convicted people and convict individuals who have gone free for decades. The bill would allow individuals who have been convicted of a crime to file a motion with the courts requesting access to evidence for forensic testing that could prove their innocence. The bill requires evidence to be kept for the duration of a defendant’s sentence.”

Present in the Massachusetts Senate chamber to watch passage of this historic legislation was Betty Anne Waters, the sister of exoneree Kenneth Waters. Ms. Waters worked for 18 years (including earning a bachelor’s, masters, and law degrees) to finally secure freedom for her brother with the help of the Innocence Project. Her story is the subject of the movie Conviction in which Hillary Swank portrays the main character.

State Senator Katherine Clark reports on the website Malden that the new DNA statute will also “help secure convictions of individuals who have gone free for decades.”

Ms. Waters joined Massachusetts State Senators on the chamber floor in a rare show of emotion. Unfortunately, her brother enjoyed just six months of freedom when he died in a tragic accident; but the wrongly convicted will continue to benefit from this legislation for many years to come.

21 years after convicting the wrong man, Hartford officials finally get it right. David Cameron reports in the Hartford Courant that Pedro Miranda was recently convicted of the 1988 murder of Carmen Lopez. The caveat to this case is that Miguel Roman spent over 20 years in prison wrongfully convicted of the same crime before he was exonerated in 2009. Why? Roman was the victim of a mishandled police investigation, a lying jailhouse snitch, and a prosecutor who in his zeal chose to ignore testimony at Miranda’s trial from an FBI analyst that the victim’s body contained DNA that was not a match to Roman.

Police and prosecutors honed in on Roman even though both Miranda and Roman had been at the victim’s apartment and were suspects. The testimony from the jailhouse informant (who was facing up to 20 years for larceny and burglary charges) sealed the deal. After he testified, he was sentenced to time served and released. This article notes that:

“The Innocence Project reports that in more than 15 percent of the 272 wrongful convictions overturned with DNA evidence an informant or jailhouse snitch testified falsely against an innocent defendant.”

Says Cameron,” The man who murdered Carmen Lopez has finally been arrested, convicted and sentenced. But there is one last piece of unfinished business in this tragic case. The state can’t return the 20 years that were taken away from Miguel Roman. But it can at least provide some compensation as it did to James Tillman for his wrongful conviction and long incarceration.”

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Life Imitates Life

Seth — November 03, 2010 @ 3:28 PM — Comments (0)

You often times hear the statement “art imitates life” to refer to instances when artistic efforts use real life events as inspiration.  But in the case of the new movie Conviction, seeing the film connotes a different theme for me.  This movie is based on the true story of Betty Ann Waters and her 18-year struggle to free her brother Kenny from wrongful incarceration in Massachusetts.  DNA testing eventually proved his innocence.

I had the surreal experience of watching the film for the first time with Florida exoneree Bill Dillon, our co-counsel in Bill’s case, and Bill’s family.  As I watched the film, I couldn’t help but think that I was watching Bill’s case on a big screen.  Kenny Water’s case has so many of the same features and his sister and the Innocence Project went through some of the same tribulations, experiencing the same emotions as we all went through in working to get Bill out.  Most importantly, for Bill, he saw an internal struggle for Kenny to stay strong and reconcile such a severe punishment with his innocence that mirrored his own struggle during his 27 years of wrongful incarceration in Florida.

When we left the film and the representative from the studio asked Bill what his thoughts of the movie were, he just said it was “true to life.”  And this was obviously true considering it was a true story.  But it was true to his life and the lives of so many exonerees.

Conviction is life imitating life.  We hope you will all see the movie.  If you are interested in coming to IPF’s reception and screening tomorrow night, November 4, 2010, it begins with the reception from 5:00-7:00 PM at Hotel Duval, in Tallahassee, followed by the film at the Miracle Five Theater at 7:30 PM.  Tickets are $25 per person and can be purchased at this link.  Otherwise, check your local listings for when the movie is playing in your neck of the woods.

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Join Two Exonerees & IPF Staff for Movie on Nov. 4th

Alejandra de la Fuente — November 01, 2010 @ 12:08 PM — Comments (0)

Alan Crotzer and Orlando Boquete, both Florida DNA exonerees, will join IPF staff and board members on Thursday, November 4th for a reception before the 7:30 p.m. showing of the new movie Conviction. The reception will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Hotel Duval and the movie will be shown at 7:30 p.m. the Miracle 5 Theater.

We hope you’ll join us for drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and the movie. Tickets for both the reception and movie are $25 per person and can be purchased on-line or you can RSVP by contacting Jackie Pugh at 850-561-6767 or jpugh@floridainnocence.org by the end of the day Tuesday.

Conviction tells the true story of Betty Anne Waters’ journey to free her brother who had been wrongfully convicted of murder.  The movie stars Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell and Minnie Driver.

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