Must-See Films and TV Episodes on Wrongful Convictions
Watch the trailers and click the links below for ten of the best feature films, documentaries and TV episodes based on true stories of wrongful accusation and conviction. And
visit our index
for more episodes and movies about the Innocence Project and wrongful conviction.
1. After Innocence
This documentary, produced by a former Innocence Project clinic student, focuses on the DNA exonerations of seven wrongfully convicted men. It received the 2005 Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize.
Directed by Tony Goldwyn and starring Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell, ‘Conviction’ (2010) tells the true story of a woman’s fight to prove her brother’s innocence.
Watch the story behind the film in this three-minute Innocence Project video.
3. The Trials of Darryl Hunt
Break Thru Films’ 2006 documentary about Darryl Hunt’s decades-long fight for justice after being wrongfully convicted of rape and murder.
4.Frontline: “Death by Fire”
This 2010 episode of PBS’ Frontline examines the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in Texas in 2004 for allegedly setting a fire that killed his three young daughters 13 years earlier. He always claimed his innocence, and the arson investigation used to convict him was questioned by leading experts before Willingham was executed. Since 2004, further evidence in the case has led to the inescapable conclusion that Willingham did not set the fire for which he was executed.
Watch other “Frontline” episodes on wrongful conviction issues:
(2010) – An award-winning documentary on the case of the “Norfolk Four” – Navy sailors convicted of a murder they didn’t commit after giving false confessions under pressure.
“Burden of Innocence”
(2003) – This look into the lives of five men who served years in prison for crimes they did not commit reveals the social, economic, and psychological challenges that people face post-exoneration.
“Requiem for Frank Lee Smith”
(2002) – An investigation by Ofra Bikel into Frank Lee Smith’s wrongful conviction of the rape and murder of a young girl.
“What Jennifer Saw”
(1997) – An examination of flaws in eyewitness identifications as evidence, through the lens of the case of Ronald Cotton, who served 12 years in North Carolina prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
Court-TV’s 2005 film version of the award-winning Off-Broadway play features the stories of six people who were exonerated after being sentenced to death. The cast includes Susan Sarandon, Danny Glover and Aidan Quinn.
6. 60 Minutes: ‘Eyewitness: How Accurate is Visual Memory?’
CBS News’ “60 Minutes” reports on the case of Ronald Cotton, who was wrongfully incarcerated for over ten years for a brutal rape and burglary he did not commit.
7. The Wronged Man
Lifetime Movie Network’s 2010 original movie about Calvin Willis, who was released from Louisiana State Penitentiary after more than 21 years of wrongful incarceration. The film focuses on Willis’ relationship with his longtime advocate, Janet Gregory, a single mom and paralegal, and her critical role in his exoneration.
Errol Morris’ award-winning 1988 documentary presents compelling evidence that Randall Adams was wrongfully convicted of killing a police officer in Dallas, Texas.
9. An Unreal Dream
In 1986 Michael Morton’s wife Christine is brutally murdered in front of their only child, and Michael is convicted of the crime. Locked away in Texas prisons for a quarter century, he has years to ponder questions of justice and innocence, truth and fate. Though he is virtually invisible to society, a team of dedicated attorneys spends years fighting for the right to test DNA evidence found at the murder scene. Their discoveries ultimately reveal that the price of a wrongful conviction goes well beyond one man’s loss of freedom.
10. The Central Park Five
In 1989, five black and Latino teenagers were arrested and charged with brutally attacking and raping a white female jogger in Central Park. News media swarmed the case, calling them a “wolfpack.” The five would spend years in prison for a crime they didn’t commit before the truth about what really happened became clear.
11. Scenes of a Crime
“Scenes of a Crime” explores a nearly 10-hour interrogation that culminates in a disputed confession, and an intense, high-profile child murder trial in New York state.
12. The Hurricane
The story of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a boxer wrongly imprisoned for murder, and the people who aided in his fight to prove his innocence.
13. In the Name of the Father
This Oscar-nominated film tells the true story of a Gerry Conlon’s coerced confession to an IRA bombing he didn’t do; and a British lawyer’s fight to free Conlon and his father. Starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Pete Postlethwaite.
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an index of additional films and TV shows
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