Exoneration Round Up – April 22, 2015

  • Thank you to Seven Ten Lounge for accommodating our regular Life After Innocence bowling event. Faculty, students, and, of course, exonerees came out this past Sunday to lace up some hideous shoes and spend an afternoon of meaningful pin-striking (with erratic results). One of the most important aspects of our mission is to build lasting relationships and provide healthy social structure for men and women upon release from a wrongful conviction sentence, and this traditional get-together is a fun, essential element of that. Check out our Facebook album for photos from Sunday, featuring exonerees Angel Gonzalez, Juan Rivera, and Michael Saunders, among others.
  • On Sunday April 12th, Life After Innocence lead a two-hour technology training seminar for several exonerees whose world had shifted considerably during their wrongful incarcerations. Students offered tips on using smartphones, search engines, and email, among other seemingly basic actions we mostly take for granted. Check out LAI Director Laura Caldwell with some of the now-tech savvy exonerees after the session.
  • Read this solemn, gut wrenching piece from The Christian Science Monitor on Ricky Jackson, whose 39 years wrongfully incarcerated constitute the longest time any innocent man has ever served in America. Jackson, whose mother died while he was in prison, faces the minutiae of small decisions and the burden of great ones as he moves forward with stunning hope and forgiveness.
  • Check out a pair of articles regarding the possible unreliability of two key bits of ostensibly scientific evidence – forensic hair matches and bite marks. In the case of hair analysis, the Justice Department and FBI formally acknowledged that essentially every member in an “elite” forensic unit proffered flawed testimony in nearly all trials in which they gave evidence for a two-decade period before the year 2000. This included overstating forensic evidence in favor of the prosecution. Of the nearly 300 trials investigated for problematic forensic testimony so far, 14 defendants who were sentenced to death have either been executed or died in prison.
  • Listen to Loyola University Chicago School of Law Dean David Yellen discuss his work on the Jon Burge police torture cases for the City of Chicago. In addition to several of our exoneree clients constituting Burge’s victims, some Life After Innocence students have assisted Dean Yellen with his work. Chicago is moving forward with a $5.5 million reparations package for the victims of Burge’s torture tactics.
  • Thank you to WBEZ’s Alison Flowers for spotlighting the stories of several exonerees, including a handful of LAI clients, for the station’s Exoneree Diaries project.
  • Read this compelling story on a likely innocent Virginia man who is being kept imprisoned despite the pleas of state prosecutors due to a troubling statute prescribing indefinite committments.
  • Finally, check out this encouraging story on the collaboration between the New Orleans Innocence Project and a local prosecutor’s Conviction Integrity Unit.
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