Weekly Exoneration Round Up – November 25, 2014

  • Congratulations to Michael Hanline, 68, who was freed in California on Monday after serving 36 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. Mr. Hanline served the longest sentence of any wrongfully-convicted individual in California history. Although he was exonerated by DNA evidence, Superior Court Judge Donald D. Coleman still ordered Mr. Hanline to wear a GPS device upon release, and the DA’s Office has not yet decided whether to drop its case against him. But Monday was cause for celebration, as Mr. Hanline was greeted by his wife Sandee outside the courthouse. “I prayed that this day would come,” she said.
  • Ricky Jackson, 57, was exonerated last Friday in Ohio after serving 39 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. Mr. Jackson was the longest-held U.S. prisoner ever to be exonerated. Congratulations to Mr. Jackson and his attorneys at the Ohio Innocence Network. Read more about Mr. Jackson’s wrongful conviction and how prosecutors stepped up to correct a “lie from the pits of hell” in this essay written by Mark Godsey, Director of the Ohio Innocence Project.
  • Earlier this year, United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia formed a Conviction Integrity Unit for federal offenses. It’s the first such unit implemented by a federal prosecutor’s office. Read more about it here.
  • Follow this link for an interesting examination of false confessions, why they happen, and the individuals who are affected the most.
  • Finally, read here about Sweet Beginnings, which is a post-release employment network that assists over 2,000 individuals annually through resource and training programs. Although the program is geared toward offering a second chance to ex-offenders, Sweet Beginnings Founder Brenda Palms Barber’s words ring true for exonerees as well. Upon release, she said, individuals “remain incarcerated socially” and feel like they do not belong in their own communities. Palms Barber’s program addresses that disconnect with grace and tangible results, as she states that not a single individual employed with Sweet Beginnings has returned to prison.
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