Posts Tagged ‘Innocence’


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.

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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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Study Finds 1-in-25 Death Row Inmates Likely Innocent

Alejandra de la Fuente — May 19, 2014 @ 9:31 AM — Comments (0)

The issue of wrongful conviction is even more prevalent than we had previously imagined. At least 1 in 25 (4.1% >) of prisoners on death row are wrongfully convicted; according to a shocking new peer-reviewed study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

In a report (Rate of False Conviction of Criminal Defendants Who Are Sentenced to Death) published on April 28th, a team of both statistician and legal researchers statistically examined the cases of 7,482 death row convictions from 1973 to 2004. Using a survival analysis mathematical model, researchers estimated that if all death-sentence defendants remained under sentence of death indefinitely, at least 4.1% would be exonerated.

Just on its face numerical value 4.1% could seem somewhat diminutive, however when that percentage is translated to represent the lives of actual people (1 in 25) it becomes much more disconcerting. It is incredibly disturbing that the justice system has currently imposed sentences which will statically lead to the death of an innocent person, 1 in every 25 times that sentence is carried out to completion. With this shocking margin of error in mind, it becomes quite apparent how necessary the efforts of the innocence movement truly are.

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Guy Spearman to Receive Pro Bono Award at Steppin’ Out 2014

Alejandra de la Fuente — April 02, 2014 @ 11:41 AM — Comments (0)

One of the most difficult truths that an exoneree has to face is the fact that nothing can ever make up for the years they were forced to spend separated from their families. These are weeks, months, years, and often decades, that they can never get back. However, there is one thing that the government can do, and that is give them compensation for the time they spent behind bars, something that Guy Spearman and IPF have worked together on to accomplish.

Guy Spearman, a lobbyist in Florida, will be honored at Steppin’ Out on May 8th, with the Innocence Project of Florida Pro Bono Award. Guy sought out both Wilton Dedge and William Dillon after their exonerations to offer his assistance in getting them compensated for their wrongful convictions. In William Dillon’s case, it took three legislative sessions to get his individual claim bill passed and then signed by Gov. Scott.

William Dillon speaks of Guy’s true heart and his hard work to help him receive compensation,

“Never could I have imagined the work and sweat it would take to make this happen.  Guy’s influence made all the difference the given respect from Government was beyond reproach. His constant work to keep this up front and meaningful was what it took to make it a reality when so many thought it would fail.”

Guy was also very helpful in securing the funding that was essential to convince the Florida Supreme Court to establish the Innocence Commission.

We are grateful for Guy’s efforts to help Wilton and William move forward with their lives after their exonerations.

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Guy and Delores Spearman

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Anthony Caravella Celebrates 4th Anniversary of Exoneration

Alejandra de la Fuente — March 25, 2014 @ 9:29 AM — Comments (0)

Today, Anthony Caravella celebrates four years of freedom. On March 25, 2010, he was exonerated of the 1983 rape and murder of a 58-year-old woman in Broward County. At the age of 16, he was sentenced to life in prison.

Caravella was arrested a month and a half after the crime occurred when he did not appear in court for a juvenile auto theft charge. He gave four statements implicating himself of the murder, all of which were different and inconsistent with the physical evidence. Less than a year later, Caravella was convicted with no physical evidence, based solely on his story. Nearly 26 years later, DNA proved that Caravella did not rape the victim.

For the last two years, Anthony has been working for his uncle’s construction company in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and is planning to attend IPF’s STAND UP FOR INNOCENCE,a night of comedy benefitting the Innocence Project of Florida, on April 12th. Congrats Anthony!

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What to Expect at Steppin’ Out 2014

Alejandra de la Fuente — March 21, 2014 @ 11:10 AM — Comments (0)

We are proud to announce the official lineup for our annual Steppin’ Out for Innocence gala on May 8th, 2014.

The night of festivities begins with a silent auction, followed by the dinner and program at 7:00 pm.

Many of our 14 DNA exonerees will be in attendance at the event. And we will honor these men for “stepping out and moving forward” with their lives after they collectively spent more than 268 years wrongfully imprisoned. We will honor the Hon. Nancy Daniels with the Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte Commitment to Justice Award, for her tirelessly efforts to prevent or reverse wrongful convictions through the trial and appellate courts. We will also honor Guy Spearman with the Innocence Project of Florida Pro Bono Award for his efforts to help Wilton Dedge and William Dillon receive compensation from the State of Florida for their wrongful convictions.

Follow Brian Banks on Twitter.We are also very excited to announce our keynote speaker for the gala this year: Brian Banks. Brian is a California exoneree who spent more than five years in prison for a crime he did not commit and then five years on parole before being exonerated in 2012. Currently he is an NFL free agent and a motivational speaker.

We can’t wait to welcome Brian, our exonerees, our honorees, and most importantly, our sponsors, to Tallahassee on May 8th, 2014 for the annual Steppin’ Out gala.

Click here to download the sponsorship commitment form.

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Tickets include silent auction, dinner, and awards program.
General Public – $100
Judges, Public Interest Lawyers and Students – $75

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Stepping Out and Moving Forward Becomes a Reality for Johnathan Montgomery

Alejandra de la Fuente — February 28, 2014 @ 7:12 AM — Comments (0)

It may have taken 2,258 days, but Johnathan Montgomery became a free man in 2013 when he was released from prison for a crime he did not commit. Now residing in Panama City, Florida, Montgomery is working to move past all of the hardships he has faced in the last six years. In his trial for rape there was no evidence or witnesses, and yet, based on victims word, he was convicted of all charges.

Montgomery claims that he is acclimating to his new life well. He has bought a car and now has a full time job. He enjoyed Thanksgiving with his family this past year and was thrilled when his cat remembered who he was, even after being gone for over 6 years. WKTR in Hampton Roads, Virginia, covered Montgomery’s journey out of prison and has said, “Now, Montgomery is looking to the future. He has a full-time job and is about to become an uncle.He’s planning on buying a house soon and wants to settle in Florida.

As for the many who have followed his journey and have known him as the wrongfully convicted man who was failed by Virginia’s legal system, Johnathan Montgomery wants you to know this:‘It doesn’t matter where you’re at, it’s how you get there and I can’t be mad.’” Here is what the Mid Atlantic Innocence Project has to say about Johnathan.

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Montgomery hugs his mom as they are finally reunited after 6 years in prison.

We are so proud of all the exonerees who are moving forward with their lives that they were forced to leave behind at the time of their wrongful conviction. We hope you join us to “step out and move forward” at our annual celebration, Steppin’ Out, on May 8th 2014, in Tallahassee, Florida, and support the amazing efforts made by these amazing men at one time had lost so much.

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Anthony Yarbough and Sharrif Wilson Exonerated in Brooklyn

Alejandra de la Fuente — February 11, 2014 @ 12:08 PM — Comments (0)

It was a normal night for the 18-year-old Anthony Yarbough until he came home and found his mother, sister and his sister’s friend choked to death with electrical cords with multiple stab wounds. In 1992, Yarbough and Sharrif Wilson were convicted after Wilson was pressured into saying that he and Yarbough committed the three murders. Wilson provided a written testimony against his friend in exchange for a shorter sentence of 9 years to life in contrast to Yarbough’s 75 years to life.

In 2005, Wilson recanted his written statement against Yarbough. In 2013, DNA evidence proved that neither Yarbough nor Wilson committed the murders. The DNA found under Yarbough’s mother’s fingernails matched the DNA in an unsolved rape from 1999, a crime that was committed after Yarbough and Wilson were already in prison.

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Both men were freed this past week, and according to sources, there were no hard feelings between the two old friends when they finally met after decades of being in prison. Yarbough now waits to see if the real perpetrator will be identified, but this time he does it in the comfort of his home and his life in Brooklyn.

We wish these two men the best of luck and hope their story shines the light on the hundreds of others around the country that are in prison for crimes they did not commit and need our help. Congrats Anthony and Sharrif, and enjoy your freedom!

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The Number of Exonerations Continues to Grow

Alejandra de la Fuente — October 25, 2013 @ 11:43 AM — Comments (0)

As of October 2013 the number of exonerations documented in the United States was 1,228.

Exonerations nationwide are documented in The National Registry of Exonerations, which is a joint project of the Michigan Law School and Northwestern University School of Law. The registry is a searchable and detailed database of information about those who have been exonerated from prison in the United States.

National-Registry-of-ExonerationsSamuel R. Gross, law professor at the University of Michigan School of Law , and Rob Warden, executive director of The Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern School of Law, began reviewing data on exonerations in the United States in 1989.

In 2012, with the help of law student Michael Shaffer and many other volunteers, they published a comprehensive review of exonerations on a national scale and launched the website for the National Registry of Exonerations.

The report contains extensive research data from 1989 to 2012. The three help to define and clarify exonerations and the processes behind them. The report also significantly explained in large detail reasons for wrongful convictions. Here are some excerpts from the inaugural report from The National Registry of Exonerations.

“DNA exonerations also take longer than non-DNA exonerations; the median time from conviction is 14.9 years compared to 7.8 years. This is true for homicide cases, where the median time is 15 years with DNA and 11.9 years without; for sexual assault cases, where the comparable numbers are 14.6 years and 7.1 years; and for child sex abuse exonerations, where the median times are 17 years with DNA and 5.9 without DNA.”

“The 873 exonerations in the Registry  come from 43 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, 19 federal districts, and the military. They are very unevenly distributed by state, and especially when broke down by county. This suggests we are missing many cases – both innocent defendants from jurisdictions where exonerations are vanishingly rare, and exonerated defendants whose cases have received little or no public attention.”

Along with detailing information regarding DNA testing for exonerations and national data, Gross and Ward explain the types of situations that may lead to wrongful incarceration. These situations are many and varied though common themes tie them together. Some of the most egregious wrongful convictions stem from official misconduct on behalf of law enforcement or the courts.

“The range of misconduct is very large. It includes flagrantly abusive investigative practices that produce the types of false evidence we have discussed: committing or procuring perjury; torture; threats or other highly coercive interrogations; threatening or lying to eyewitnesses; forensic fraud. At the far end, it includes framing innocent suspects for crimes that never occurred. The most common serious form of official misconduct is concealing exculpatory evidence from the defendant and the court.”

The average number of exonerations has grown by about 220 cases per year. The website is an invaluable resource that is intuitively designed and makes searching out exonerees a simple task. The website allows the user to search using name, exoneration date, contributing factors to exoneration, location, and status. The website also provides relatively short biographies of those profiled and their history regarding their exoneration.

 You can find information about the Registry online and a copy of the inaugural exonerations report created by Gross and Warden can be found here.

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“I loved the parties and chasing the pretty girls.”

Alejandra de la Fuente — January 18, 2013 @ 4:24 PM — Comments (0)

Being young is a time for mistakes and successes along with a carefree attitude; no one should ever have this experience taken from them, especially when it involves a wrongful conviction. Unfortunately many people have suffered at the hands of an imperfect criminal justice system. Not only have these wrongful convictions affected the lives of these men and women, but also their families as well as those of us who care about the justice system. William Dillon and James Bain are only 2 of 302 people who have been exonerated using DNA testing nationwide; these men featured in Unlock the Truth are incredible human beings who faced overwhelming odds and came out of prison grateful rather than bitter.

If you have never watched Unlock the Truth, please take the time now.

My personal reaction to Unlock the Truth is difficult to explain. As a senior in college, I am 21 years old with much ahead of me in the coming years. It continually rings in my head, “I loved the parties and chasing the pretty girls.” This should have been the only worry in William Dillon’s mind; yet he was faced with a life sentence for a murder he did not commit at the young age of 22. James Bain was only 19 when he was wrongfully convicted of rape and kidnapping; the lives of these young men were taken away for crimes neither of them committed.

I think about the dilemmas I face in my life and how trivial each and every one is compared to what William and James faced when they were my age. I can’t imagine the confusion, the anger or the hopelessness. The accounts of their incarceration as well as the toll it took on their families was the most emotional part of Unlock the Truth. William Dillon’s father questions, “What did I do wrong as a dad?” just as James Bain’s sister claims, “Every time we went to see him, I would go but I didn’t want to go because I knew he wasn’t coming back.” The struggle and strife these families endured is painful and understanding the unnecessary pain is challenging. Fortunately these families were reunited after decades lost.

Organizations such as the Innocence Project of Florida and all of the innocence projects around the world give the wrongfully convicted hope. Dillon repeats, in his account, as tears roll down his face, “I thank them very much because without them, it won’t happen, it won’t happen, it won’t happen.”

The process of exoneration is a long and daunting task; however without the persistence and the perseverance of those who working to correct these injustices, Dillon is right – “it just won’t happen.” From attorneys and legal interns to volunteers and fundraisers, every person has the ability to help unlock the truth for the wrongfully imprisoned.

Let us know what you thought after watching Unlock the Truth.

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It’s Not Over Yet

Seth — September 20, 2011 @ 8:10 PM — Comments (1)

Here is a statement from Troy himself on his pending execution and all of your efforts to stop his execution based on severe doubts about his guilt:

The struggle for justice doesn’t end with me. This struggle is for all the Troy Davises who came before me and all the ones who will come after me. I’m in good spirits and I’m prayerful and at peace. But I will not stop fighting until I’ve taken my last breath.

Although the odds are long to stop this execution, your efforts to stop the travesty are not in vain.  Please sign this new petition urging the District Attorney Larry Chisolm to use whatever power and discretion he has to withdraw the death warrant and stop Troy’s execution.

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