At the Berkeley Carroll School in Brooklyn, New York, a class of high school students has a newfound knowledge of the criminal justice system. As part of a two-week spring intensive seminar entitled “The Innocence Project/Social Justice through Art,” students from the Upper School examined wrongful convictions, the work of the Innocence Project, and the cases of the 325 DNA-based exonerations in the United States—all while learning about art as a social advocacy tool.
As part of their examination of the Innocence Project, students took an in-depth look at the root causes of wrongful convictions. Their investigation included a trip to the Innocence Project, where they attended a lecture and Q & A session with Senior Staff Attorney Vanessa Potkin, who just last week helped secure the freedom of the exoneree Angel Gonzalez from Illinois. The students also met one-on-one with New York exoneree Fernando Bermudez, who also spoke to their school, and they devoted many hours to researching DNA-based cases.
On Friday, at a school assembly, the students spoke about their project and what they’d learned, and they presented their final product, an impressive handmade quilt. Originally designed by the students, the quilt includes the names of each of DNA-based exoneree in the United States, embroidered by hand.
The quilt be on display at the Berkeley Carroll School’s Upper School building for the next several weeks to educate others about wrongful convictions and the work of the Innocence Project. Eventually, the quilt will be given to the Innocence Project, where it will be displayed at the office in New York City.
If you’re interested in having an exoneree come to speak at your school or organization, please contact the
Innocence Project’s Exoneree Speakers Bureau