In 2016, the Innocence Project won major victories for justice. Our legal work led to the exoneration of seven clients, all of whom lived through decades—from 24 years to 33 years—before their wrongful convictions were cleared. Partnering with these clients for the long haul, our attorneys helped these courageous men to finally prove their innocence, win their freedom and join their families for the holidays for the first time in years.
These cases prove that correcting the justice system doesn’t come easy. Sadly, exonerating an innocent person of a wrongful conviction is a long and hard process. And the only way that Innocence Project attorneys can take on the most challenging of cases is through the financial support of dedicated supporters who understand that their donations sustain our capacity to keep the work going.
Senior Attorney Nina Morrison, who worked on recent exoneree Anthony Wright’s case, sums it up well: “It took us more than a decade of court battles to clear Tony’s name and set him free. It requires a lot of patience and perseverance against some incredibly difficult odds—but it only makes his first holidays at home all the sweeter in the end.”
We are thrilled for our clients who were exonerated in 2016. However, we know that the problem of wrongful conviction is vast. And in the coming year, we will have to fight even harder.
Thousands of people write us every year, and we expect 2017 will be no different. We will receive inquiries by phone, email and mail from people in prison seeking our help in proving their innocence, and family members contacting us on behalf of their loved ones. Though it is time-consuming, our staff will respond to every single person.
Because we are committed to seeing every case to the very end and using all our resources to fight for what is right, we hope you will support us with a year-end gift today. Your gift today will also be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to a total of $155,000 thanks to a group of longtime supporters.
We’re honored to highlight some of the extraordinary people who were exonerated this year and who are now home with their families for the holidays.
DARRYL HOWARD Exonerated in North Carolina After 24 Years: DNA evidence excluding Darryl and linking two other people to the crime scene, and other evidence proving Darryl’s innocence, led the court to throw out his convictions in 2014. But even then, he was detained in prison for two more years while prosecutors appealed the decision. Finally, in August of this year, Darryl was exonerated when the murder charges against him were dropped. Photo: Sameer Abdel-Khalek.
ANTHONY WRIGHT Acquitted and Exonerated of Rape and Murder in Pennsylvania after 25 Years: Based on DNA evidence that proved his innocence, Tony’s convictions were vacated in 2014, but prosecutors made the extraordinary choice to retry him. At the retrial this past August, a Philadelphia jury—in less than an hour—found him not guilty on all counts. Photo: Kevin Monko
KEITH HARWARD Exonerated in Virginia After 33 Years: Keith Harward was wrongfully convicted of a 1982 crime primarily based on the testimony of forensic dentists who said his teeth matched marks left on the victim. Keith narrowly escaped the death penalty. Based on DNA evidence, a court declared Keith’s actual innocence this past spring. “I’m a 60-year-old newborn so everything’s new to me,” says Keith.
DION HARRELL Exonerated in New Jersey After 28 Years: Dion Harrell served four years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit. The following 24 years, he struggled with unemployment, harassment and homelessness because his wrongful conviction required him to be listed on New Jersey’s sexual offender registry. Finally, this past summer, he was fully exonerated based on DNA evidence which proved his innocence. Photo: Yili Liu
Our work is only possible with the support of people like you who believe deeply in freeing the innocent and making our system more fair and just.
Together, we will work even harder in the years ahead to bring justice to the many who languish in our prisons and jails, and to make the system fairer for all.
Thank you for all your support and happy holidays,
The Innocence Project
Related: Anthony Wright: ‘I am finally home’