|Wrongful Conviction Day 2022 | Innocence Network Livestream Event
Yesterday marked Wrongful Conviction Day, a day in which we highlight the causes and remedies of wrongful conviction. Our friends and partners in the Innocence Network promote this day to help raise awareness about wrongful convictions and invite new people to join this movement. They are hosting a full-day of free online programming until 8 p.m. ET today. Be sure to register and tune in.
Adnan Syed, center, whose case gained notoriety from the hit podcast “Serial,” leaves a courthouse after a judge vacated his 2000 murder conviction Monday, Sept. 19, 2022 in Baltimore. (Image: Steve Ruark/AP Images for The Innocence Project)
Adnan Syed Released After 23 Years In Prison
In 1999, teenager Adnan Syed was convicted of the murder of his high school ex-girlfriend after her body was found buried in a park in Baltimore, Maryland. Adnan has always maintained his innocence, and earlier this month, his conviction was finally overturned and he was released due, among other issues, to the State’s failure to disclose exculpatory evidence — known as a Brady violation. Adnan’s attorney, Erica Suter of the University of Baltimore Innocence Project clinic, said, “We welcome Judge Melissa Phinn’s decision to vacate the conviction of Adnan Syed, grant a new trial, and order his immediate release.” His case gained a large following and interest after being featured on the podcast ‘Serial’ in 2014 as well as in an HBO docuseries.
This year, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down two alarming decisions that will make it more difficult for innocent people to prove their wrongful convictions while they are imprisoned. (Image: Claire Anderson / Unsplash)
There Is a Fierce Urgency of Now
Entering into her third year as Executive Director of the Innocence Project, Christina Swarns took a moment to reflect on the current criminal legal landscape and how recent rulings in the United States Supreme Court have worrying implications for the administration of justice in the country. One case, in particular, Shinn v. Ramirez and Jones, effectively closes federal courthouse doors to evidence of ineffective assistance of trial counsel — attorney errors that prevented juries from hearing evidence of innocence — a ruling that will leave many people without a court to review strong claims of innocence. Read more on why we need to be ever more vigilant in advancing criminal and racial justice reform and what you can do to drive change — take a look.
Herman Williams, pictured with his Innocence Project attorney Vanessa Potkin and Illinois Innocence Project attorney Lauren Kaeseberg, was exonerated and released from an Illinois prison Sept. 6, 2022 after 29 years. (Image: Ray Abercrombie for the Innocence Project)
Herman Williams Is Exonerated After Nearly Three Decades of Wrongful Conviction
Earlier this month, Herman Williams was exonerated 29 years after his wrongful conviction for the 1994 murder of his ex-wife. Herman was represented by Innocence Project attorney Vanessa Potkin and Lauren Kaeseberg of the Illinois Innocence Project. His conviction was overturned based on new DNA evidence as well as faulty forensics and police and prosecutorial misconduct in his case. After his release, Herman, his lawyers, and his family were reunited and able to freely embrace for the first time in decades in a nearby park. Take a moment to read more about Herman’s story, and then help him adjust to life post-incarceration by fulfilling some of the items on his Amazon wishlist.
A prison guard oversees incarcerated people as they return to the dorms from farm work detail at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, La., on Aug. 18, 2011. The guard rides atop a horse that was broken in and trained by incarcerated people. (Image: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
New Report Highlights Persistent Racial Disparities Among Wrongful Convictions
The National Registry of Exonerations released a report this week about race and wrongful convictions in the United States. The report confirms the inherent racism within our criminal legal system and shows some alarming and persistent racial disparities when it comes to wrongful convictions. For example, it found that innocent Black people in the U.S. are eight times more likely than white people to be wrongly convicted of rape, and 19 times more likely to be wrongly convicted of drug crimes, even though data proves that white and Black Americans use illegal drugs at similar rates. Please take a moment right now to read through some of the report’s biggest takeaways.
Exonerations Around the U.S.
Office of the Ohio Public Defender Wrongful Conviction Project client Kenny Phillips was exonerated on Sept. 27, 2022 after serving 15 years wrongfully incarcerated.