An Innocent Project Tribute to Father’s Day: Jonathan Barr and James Harden

06.17.16 By Carlita Salazar

An Innocent Project Tribute to Father’s Day: Jonathan Barr and James Harden

In 2011, Jonathan Barr—along with several of his co-defendants, one of whom was his brother,  James Harden—was exonerated of rape and murder in Illinois. Barr, who was a teenager at the time, had been convicted in 1997 after a 15-year-old implicated him in the violent 1991 crime. Barr spent 14 years in prison and Harden spent 16 years for crimes they didn’t commit. During those years, their father James was a fierce advocate for their redemption and freedom. In honor of Fathers’ Day, we spoke to both brothers about their father.

Jonathan Barr

My dad meant the world to me.  He made it possible for us to come home. He never stopped fighting for us to get exonerated. It’s because of him that we’re out today.

He would carry files from our cases around in the back of his car, and whenever he would come into contact with someone from the legal community, he would give them our cases to see if they could help us.

And he didn’t stop there. He wrote to the Innocence Project and was trying to get assistance for us. Luckily, everything worked out in the end with our case, but my dad died in 2009, two years before we were released.

He was the definition of a man, to me—a true man.

Two years ago I had my own child. Her name is Mattie, after my mother. She was born on my dad’s birthday; that was God’s ultimate gift to me. She’s two years old going on 21—she’s a handful. But she’s the highlight of my life. Through my daughter, I get to see my mom and dad every day.

“From day one he was our true soldier. He walked the neighborhood asking questions to find the truth about our innocence — he was a real private eye.” -Harden


Barr, left, with his brother James. Photo: Zoran Orlick

Related: An Innocence Project Tribute to Father’s Day: Damon Thibodeaux


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Lavonya August 29, 2016 at 3:24 pm Reply   

You guys are so strong and look so happy now. I am so happy for you both and wish you the best in life keep pushing .


Debra Platt June 20, 2016 at 6:03 am Reply   

My son Leon Platt is a young innocent African American Man. Who stands wrongfully accused of crimes not committed by him but by the witnesses & immunity witnesses committed these crimes. His case number will tell you he is innocent & being railroaded by a racist redneck community Ellwood,Pennsylvania. This case is a cover up case & the evidence will prove it. Other Officers such as State Police & Correctional Officers who sat in the hearing & are not connected to the case said to my sons lawyer & me I believe your son & the witnesses lied on your clientson. I am asking for help cos the lawyer told my son he do not understand how come he keeps loosing. I had other lawyers look up his case number & they could not believe that this lawyer lost & said to me get rid of him & get another lawyer. But I don’t have the money. I work in the steelmill industry. Plus I don’t drive so I pay people to take me to see my son & they are over charging me & I know it. I either pay or don’t see my son. Plus I put money on his book. & I also believe my son was paying people for protection. Because for over a year I was giving him like around $800.00 a month & struggling with bill money because he begged me for money over & over & to this day he will not tell me what he did with that money. I now give him way less money for over a year so the demand for money dropped. Is their any way someone can help my son. This is a nightmare our family is going through. Leon’s case is very expensive,$750,000,000.00 for the sumary & 2-3 million for hearing. Tried to replace the lawyer before trial & it was going to cost $500,000.00 to start,but I do not have that kind of money. Trial is over & my son was found guilty of every single charge. No charges were dropped. My son lawyer said he going to file an appeal after sentencing. He will loose the appeal & i told him to his face he was going to loose & he smiled & chuckle & said do you really think so & i said yes. I been right every time. I believe he got something in return just like the witnesses did & all the officers involved in this case. My son was their Trophy . Officer got promoted & others got early retirement. The witnesses got get out of prison free cards & they broke the law since November 2013 very serious laws & none of them went to jail or prison for other crimes committed. Please email don’t work & I don’t use it at all. So can you send me a message not with my email cos I won’t be able to retrieve it. Thanks

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