On the 1st Annual International Wrongful Conviction Day organizations and individuals from around the world united to commemorate wrongful convictions.  The day is designed to recognize the tremendous personal, social, and legal costs associated with wrongful convictions.  On this day, the people who have been forced to endure the consequences brought on by a wrongful conviction should be acknowledged.  The day should also be used to educate the public and bring about better social awareness of wrongful convictions.  In addition, those who work hard in criminal defense, especially those who work to overturn wrong convictions should be respected.

The groups participating this year included the California Innocence Project, the Ohio Innocence Project, the Innocence Project, Justice for Illinois Wrongfully Convicted, Centurion Ministries, Michigan Innocence Clinic, Criminal Lawyers’ Association, Cooper Rock Pictures, and Humanity for Prisoners.

The Ohio Innocence Project released a statement about the importance of recognizing this criminal justice problem:

“The Innocence Movement, in recent years, has begun to galvanize into an international human rights movement.  Organized and sophisticated innocence work is underway on every inhabited continent, with a new network of organizations in Latin America, and several new projects in Europe, Africa and Asia.  The world is starting to recognize that no matter what form of criminal justice system is present in a country, all systems rely on humans beings in the process, and humans make mistakes.  All countries, regardless of the system, rely on confessions, eyewitnesses, informants with an incentive to lie, and unreliable or invalidated sciences.  The International Wrongful Convictions Day is a testament to the growing concern over this human problem.”

There were many events scheduled Thursday around the world, including some here in the U.S.

For example, the Humber School of Social and Community Services in California held an event on the causes of wrongful convictions and California Western School of Law held a special 1 credit class taught by California Innocence Project Director Justin Brooks on the ethical implications of post-conviction cases.  The class included a roundtable discussion with exonerees.

The New York Innocence Project also released a statements saying:  “Wrongful Conviction Day is a way to honor the tremendous sacrifice made by the many men and women who have been wrongly convicted.  To show our appreciation to these brave individuals, we will be encouraging our supporters to write to a recent exoneree and thank him or her for standing up to injustice.”

Sonia Jacobs and Peter Pringle each served years on death row – Jacobs 17 years in California and Pringle 15 years in Ireland.  Both were exonerated and they met one another at an Amnesty International meeting while both were separately campaigning against the death penalty.  Their wedding was held in late 2011 and was most likely the first of its kind (two exonerated death row inmates).  They released a message of support as well:

“We support Wrongful Conviction Day because both of us were wrongly convicted and sentenced to death. It robbed us of years of our lives, as well as the endless possibilities that will never happen, and caused our families unimaginable heartache and harm – destroying some relationships and preventing others from ever coming to be. It is human nature to make mistakes. When it comes to wrongful convictions, we can put into place sufficient checks and balances to prevent, and afterwards to correct, the majority. But we can never be perfect. Therefore, constant vigilance and integrity must be exercised. We must always question and be open to questions. The society we get is the society we make.”

Read more messages of support here:   What People Are Saying



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