News 12.14.22

10 Striking Photos That Perfectly Capture the Innocence Project’s Highlights of 2022

From poignant portraits to moving shots of protests, these are some of our favorite photos of 2022.

By Justin Chan

This year marks the Innocence Project’s 30th anniversary, and it has been one filled with powerful moments that were skillfully captured on camera. From the campaign to stop Melissa Lucio’s execution to the exonerations of Mallory Nicholson, John Galvan, and Herman Williams, these events not only reflect milestone achievements but also serve as important reminders of why our work in criminal and racial justice reform is necessary. 

From poignant portraits to representations of activism in action, these images convey different emotional states: joy, optimism, excitement, confidence, calmness, steadfastness, and more. They tell stories of the years lost to wrongful conviction, of a life returned, and of a hopeful future. Most importantly, they are hard proof that the criminal legal system continues to ensnare innocent people — and that freedom is a precious right too often taken for granted. 

These images are just a small sample of the countless moments captured this year, all of which are enduring records of lived experiences that drive our work every day.

1. Huwe Burton reflects on his passion for music

Huwe Burton shares how music helped him retain hope through his many years of wrongful conviction in a moving story published in February.

Huwe Burton, who was exonerated in 2019 of murder of his mother, holds Nas’ Illmatic on Feb. 5, 2022, at Hampton Park in Charleston, South Carolina. (Image: Gavin McIntyre/Innocence Project)

2. Melissa Lucio’s supporters rally against her scheduled execution

Dozens of supporters for Melissa Lucio bring attention to her case in March at the 26th Cesar E. Chavez March for Justice — an annual march that pays tribute to labor and civil rights leaders Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta — in San Antonio, Texas.

Melissa Lucio’s sister Sonya is flanked by supporters at the Cesar Chavez March for Justice in San Antonio, Texas, on March 26, 2022. (Image: Christopher Lee for the Innocence Project)

3. Mallory Nicholson is exonerated after 40 years

Mallory Nicholson celebrates his exoneration in June after being wrongly convicted of a burglary and sexual assault he never committed.

Mallory Nicholson, who was wrongly convicted in 1982, kisses his wife Ethel following his exoneration on June 2, 2022. (Image: Ron Jenkins/Innocence Project)

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4. John Galvan walks free in Chicago

In June, John Galvan experiences freedom for the first time in 35 years after he, along with his co-defendants Arthur Alemendarez and Francisco Nanez, were wrongly convicted of an arson they did not commit. They are exonerated just days later, on July 21.

John Galvan is released from Cook County Jail on July 15, 2022, after serving 35 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. (Image: Ray Abercrombie / Innocence Project)

5. Herman Williams is finally home

Herman Williams comes home in September after an Illinois judge vacated his murder conviction and ordered his immediate release.

Herman Williams, who served 29 years for a crime he did not commit, is warmly welcomed home after his release from an Illinois prison on Sept. 6, 2022. (Image: Ray Abercrombie for the Innocence Project)

6. Gerry Thomas rebuilds his life following 30 years of wrongful conviction

Gerry Thomas, who was wrongly convicted of a sexual assault and attempted murder he never committed, shares how creating became his “spiritual food” in powerful story published in Februrary.

Gerry Thomas, who spent nearly 30 years wrongly incarcerated for a crime he did not commit, at his apartment in Sterling Heights, Michigan on Feb. 7, 2022. (Image: Sylvia Jarrus/Innocence Project)

7. Michelle Murphy poses for a portrait at the 2022 Innocence Network Conference

In 2014, Michelle Murphy was exonerated after DNA testing proved her innocence in a murder she did not commit. She is the first among a growing number of women the Innocence Project has helped exonerate.

Michelle Murphy at the 2022 Innocence Network Conference in Phoenix. (Kenny Karpov/Innocence Project)

8. Paul Hildwin shows off his tattoos at the 2022 Innocence Network Conference

In 2020, Paul Hildwin, who spent 29 years on death row, walked free in Florida after a court ordered his release with time served. He has always maintained his innocence in a 1985 murder for which he was convicted.

Paul Hildwin shows his tattoos during a photo shoot at the 2022 Innocence Network Conference in Phoenix. (Kenny Karpov/Innocence Project)

9. Cornelius Dupree and Marvin Anderson come together on Wrongful Conviction Day

Exonerees Cornelius Dupree and Marvin Anderson join supporters and other exonerees at the Riverside Church in New York to commemorate Wrongful Conviction Day.

Cornelius Dupree and Marvin Anderson embrace one another at a Wrongful Conviction Day event in New York City on Oct. 2, 2022. (Image: Marissa Alper/Innocence Project)

10. New York City unveils the Gate of the Exonerated in Central Park in honor of wrongfully convicted individuals

Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Kevin Richardson Jr. — all of whom are members of the Exonerated Five — celebrate the renaming of a Central Park entrance in tribute to wrongly convicted people.

Yusef Salaam (left), Raymond Santana (second from right), and Kevin Richardson (far right), three of the Exonerated Five, unveil the new ‘Gate of the Exonerated’ entrance in New York City’s Central Park on Dec. 19, 2022, the 20th anniversary of their exoneration. (Image: Jeenah Moon/Innocence Project)

 

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