The Innocence Project Online: June 2011


The Innocence Project Online: June 2011
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Innocence Project

Innocence Project
JUNE 2011


In This Issue

Innocence Project Client Wins DNA Tests in Tennessee

Help Fund DNA Tests to Free the Innocent

Key Reforms Move Forward in CT

Why I Give: A Donor Profile

News Watch

The House Case and the Causes of Injustice

Paul House and Mom

A feature story in Reason Magazine’s July issue looks at the case of exonerated Innocence Project client Paul House (above, with his mother) and delves deeply into the causes of wrongful conviction nationwide.

Read more


Image courtesy Reason Magazine.

Innocence Project Calls for New York Reform

The Innocence Project called on New York legislators this week to reject a bill that would expand the state’s DNA database without also addressing key reforms to prevent wrongful convictions.

Read more



What You’re Saying


We asked our Facebook community last week


your favorite movies

on the topic of wrongful conviction and we heard lots of great suggestions. Here are a few:


After Innocence

” — because I never understood that people who are exonerated aren’t compensated for their lost years. So tragic.

Joann M.:

The Hurricane

.” It reminds us that the “Good Guys” sometimes aren’t really good guys and the “Bad Guys” sometimes aren’t really the bad guys. The story was so unbelievable I had to keep telling myself this is true. This really happened.

Jessica H.:

The Wrong Man

” A chilling film by Alfred Hitchcock which was based on the true story of a man wrongfully accused in 1950’s New York and how the accusation, arrest and subsequent trial turned his and his family’s life upside down.

Charee C.:


” because she really gave her all to help her brother.

Add your favorite here

, and watch trailers of

our ten must-see films and episodes

on wrongful conviction.

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The Innocence Project

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New York, NY 10013

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Innocence Project Client Wins DNA Tests in Tennessee


Rudolph Powers will finally get the DNA testing that could prove him innocent. After serving more than 30 years in Tennessee prisons for a crime he didn’t commit, Powers won access to DNA tests last week when the state Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s decision.

Powers was convicted of committing two rapes in Memphis in 1980, and has maintained his innocence throughout his long incarceration. The Innocence Project has fought for three years to get DNA tests for Powers, but prosecutors and lower courts blocked testing. In its decision last week, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that DNA results pointing to someone other than Powers would provide a “reasonable probability” that he would not have been convicted in the first place.

“It’s unfortunate that Mr. Powers has had to fight so long for access to this testing, but this decision sends a very clear message that DNA testing should be granted under the state statute when it might be probative,” Innocence Project Staff Attorney Craig Cooley said. “This will be a huge help to other people in Tennessee prisons who are seeking to prove their innocence through DNA.”

Read more about Powers’ case.

Help Fund DNA Tests to Free the Innocent

DNA double-helix

A single DNA test can overturn decades of injustice, but we need your help to make these tests happen. We spend $5,500 on DNA testing in an average case but we could never put a dollar value on the freedom these tests can provide.

We’re aiming to raise $25,000 by June 30 to fund DNA tests for Innocence Project clients and we’re more than halfway there!

Will you donate $25 today to help us reach our goal?

Every dollar donated through this campaign goes directly to DNA testing costs for our clients. Thank you for your support.

Key Reforms Move Forward in CT

Meanwhile, the FBI Sticks to Pen and Paper

Interrogation Chair

Bills passed by the Connecticut legislature this month could help reduce the possibility of false confessions and eyewitness misidentifications in the state. State lawmakers passed two bills requiring reforms to interrogation and identification procedures, and both are awaiting signature by Gov. Dan Malloy.

“In addressing two major causes of wrongful conviction, the passage of these bills represents major progress in preventing future miscarriages of justice in the state of Connecticut,” said Rebecca Brown, the Innocence Project Senior Policy Advocate for State Affairs “We are extremely hopeful that the Governor will make these bills law, which promises to offer judges and juries in Connecticut more reliable and accurate evidence.”

False confessions and admissions are a central cause of wrongful convictions, playing a role in 25% of the 272 DNA exoneration cases to date. Recording of interrogations has been shown to reduce the possibility of false confessions and to provide police, judges and juries with an accurate record of evidence collected during questioning.

But while Connecticut and many other states are making progress on interrogation procedures, the FBI is

resisting calls

to reform its procedure of prohibiting agents from recording interviews or confessions. The agency advises agents to record conversations with a pencil and paper and says recording can be “unduly burdensome” on investigations.

What are your state’s policies on interrogations and identification proecedures?

View our map of reforms nationwide



Why I Give: A Donor Profile

Claudia Brandt


Cordova, TN

Last week, I saw a post on the Innocence Project’s Facebook page about the organization’s campaign to raise funds to pay for the DNA tests that can free innocent people from prison. I clicked on the link and gave $25 from myself and $25 from my husband. It was a no-brainer. By giving up one or two simple expenses — like a meal at a restaurant or a trip to the movies — we can help fight injustice.

I recently had a personal experience with the criminal justice system, and it opened my eyes to the potential for injustice. A family member was arrested for a minor charge, and our family was thrust into a chaotic system that barely noticed us. This prompted me to do quite a bit of research, and I was appalled to learn just how easy it is to be locked up for life, innocent or not. It was this experience that moved me to help the Innocence Project in its fight to free innocent people from American prisons.

Many of the people the Innocence Project represents ended up in prison because they didn’t have the money to make their voice heard when they were wrongfully arrested. They’ve been kept silent for too long, but if they get a DNA test they can finally be heard. Please join me by helping to fund the tests that can give an innocent person their voice and their freedom.

Join Claudia by

donating $25 today

— 100% of your gift will go directly to DNA testing costs for our clients. We’re hoping to raise $25,000 by June 30. We’re more than halfway there — with your help we can reach this goal.

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