Speakers Bureau

We connect wrongful conviction experts with schools, colleges, companies, and organizations around the world. Our team of inspiring speakers includes people who were incarcerated for crimes they did not commit and staff members each working to correct wrongful convictions and prevent future injustices. Want to book a speaker? Please fill out our online form.

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On March 10, 2015, Angel Gonzalez was exonerated after serving over 20 years in prison for a rape that he did not commit.

In 1994, Gonzalez was misidentified by a rape victim as the man who attacked her when police used a highly unreliable and suggestive identification procedure. After he was arrested, he was then misled by police into signing a false confession. Despite having four alibi witnesses testify in his defense in court, Gonzalez was wrongfully convicted of aggravated sexual assault and aggravated kidnapping and was sentenced to 40 years in prison. Although Gonzalez maintained his innocence from the beginning, it wasn’t until 2013 that he was finally able to prove his innocence through DNA testing. Today he is a member of the Innocence Project Exoneree Advisory Group.

Carlos Sanchez spent nearly 25 years—more than half of his life— in prison for a murder he and his attorneys maintain he did not commit before he was granted parole in January 2017 and released in May 2017.

Sanchez was only 17 when, after an eight-hour interrogation by police without a lawyer or guardian present, he signed a confession taking responsibility for the 1992 murder of his girlfriend. The confession was the only evidence linking him to the crime, and it was taken under circumstances now known to be associated with false confessions. The statement was also at odds with physical evidence collected in the case.

Exonerated and Freed People Cornelius Dupree

“While I will never be able to regain the many years I lost in prison, I hope that my experience will motivate our lawmakers to pass the eyewitness identification reform bill so that others don’t have to suffer like I did.”

On November 23, 1979, a woman was raped and robbed in Texas. Cornelius Dupree was arrested the following month because he resembled a suspect from a different sexual assault and robbery case. However, Dupree did not match the description of the person who committed the  e November carjacking. Nonetheless. Dupree was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to 75 years in prison. After spending 30 years of his his life locked up for a crime he did not commit, Cornelius Dupree was released on parole on July 22, 2010. Less than two weeks after his release, initial DNA testing indicated that Dupree was innocent of the crime. Later tests confirmed these results, leading to the trial judge declaring him innocent on January 4, 2011. Post release, Dupree became a member of the Innocence Project’s Exoneree Advisory Council, where he works with both the Innocence Project staff and other exonerees to fight for criminal justice reform.

“I believe in justice, but it doesn’t always come easy, so we must persevere through our troubling times to reach that light at the end of the tunnel, No matter what we are facing in life, never give up.”

In July 1981, a 74-year-old woman was attacked while sleeping in her home in Ogden, Kansas.  Eddie James Lowery, who was 22 years old at the time and a soldier stationed at Fort Riley, was interrogated about the attack after he was involved in a traffic accident near the victim’s house. Lowery was questioned all day without food and was told he did not need a lawyer although he requested one. Investigators supplied Lowery with details of the crime – the house, the manner of entry, the weapon, and specifics about the rape. These details were eventually incorporated into his confession. Although Lowery recanted the statements and his attorney filed a motion to suppress them, the court ruled that the confession was made voluntarily and allowed it into the trial. The confession became the cornerstone of the prosecution’s case. Lowery was sentenced to 11 years to life in prison. In September 2002, DNA test results confirmed that Lowery was indeed innocent. In April 2003, Lowery was exonerated.

Exonerated and Freed People Fernando Bermudez

“As an exoneree, I believe I worked harder for my freedom than I did to enter this world.”

In 1991, Fernando Bermudez, at age 22, was wrongfully convicted of killing a teenager outside of a nightclub in New York City. Mr. Bermudez became a suspect after an eyewitness picked him out in a police photo lineup. In 1992, despite four alibi witnesses and no physical or forensic evidence linking him to the crime, he was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 23 years to life in prison. The following year, all witnesses recanted their testimony of seeing Mr. Bermudez commit the crime. It was not until 2009 that a judge overturned his conviction on “actual innocence” grounds based on police and prosecutorial misconduct. Mr. Bermudez spent 18 years in prison yet managed to start a family and have three children. Now a massive advocate for reform, he has shared his experience and inspiring messages with audiences around the world while completing a book about his ordeal.

In 1991, Huwe Burton was wrongfully convicted of murdering his mother and sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. The wrongful conviction was based on a false confession, which was coerced by police, despite compelling evidence that the man who lived downstairs from the Burtons had committed the crime. 

Mr. Burton recanted his confession and spent more than 20 years wrongfully incarcerated until he was released on parole in 2009. All the while, he was working with his legal team to prove his innocence. In January 2019, after an intensive joint investigation between the Innocence Project and the Bronx Conviction Review Unit, the district attorney’s office submitted a recommendation for dismissal of charges against Mr. Burton, and he was finally exonerated. Today, Mr. Burton lectures around the country about false confessions and unreliable police interrogation techniques. He is an avid marathon runner and has been featured on HBO’s Real Sports

On April 23, 2007, Jerry Miller became the 200th person in the United States exonerated through DNA evidence. Though he had been paroled a year earlier, Miller had spent more than 24 years in the Illinois prison system for a rape that he did not commit. His conviction was based solely on eyewitness misidentification. The Innocence Project took on Miller’s case in 2005. After DNA testing excluded Miller, the Cook County State Attorney’s Office joined the Innocence Project and the Cook County Public Defender’s Office in a joint motion to vacate and dismiss Miller’s conviction. Post incarceration, Miller has been a vocal advocate for justice reform, with an emphasis on the weakness of witness identification. He is also a member of the Innocence Project’s Exoneree Advisory Council.

Exonerated and Freed People Johnny Hincapie

“I believe that the innocent should be separated from any and all prosecutions in our judicial system. No correlation should exist. Having a separated agency that reviews and impartially declares innocence would eliminate wrongful convictions forever.”

In 1990, 18-year-old Johnny Hincapie was wrongfully convicted in the murder case of Brian Watkins in New York. Hincapie falsely confessed to the attack after he was physically intimidated and psychologically coerced by an investigator on the case. Hincapie testified that the cop beat him and yelled racial slurs. In 2015, based on new testimony from two witnesses as well as a co-defendant who said that Hincapie was not involved in the attack, a New York judge overturned his conviction. Hincapie was exonerated after he spent 25 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Today, Johnny—a gifted speaker—shares his powerful story along with education on coerced confessions and criminal justice reform at organizations across the United States.

After the Virginia Supreme Court granted a writ of actual innocence, Keith Allen Harward walked out of a Virginia prison on April 8, 2016, after spending more than 33 years of a life sentence for a rape and murder he did not commit.

Despite testifying in his own defense and presenting evidence he didn’t match the victim’s description, Harward was wrongfully convicted of capital murder but was spared the death penalty by the jury. Harward, was convicted primarily on the testimony of two forensic dentists who said that Harward’s teeth matched marks left on the rape victim. During the course of his prosecution six forensic dentists falsely claimed that Harward’s teeth matched a bite mark on one of the victims. New DNA evidence definitively proved Harward’s innocence and pointed to another man as the real assailant. Harward is one of eight people whose story is in the Innocence Project-inspired Netflix docuseries The Innocence Files now available for streaming.

“They said if I was there and if I went along with it, that I could go home. And that’s all I wanted. That’s all I wanted, was to go home.”

On the night of April 19, 1989, a 28-year-old female jogger was brutally attacked and raped in New York’s Central Park. After prolonged periods of police interrogation, five teenagers—including Korey Wise—falsely confessed to being involved in the attack. Then 16 years old, Wisewas tried as an adult and wrongfully convicted of assault, sexual abuse, and riot. He was sentenced to five to fifteen years in prison. In early 2002, Matias Reyes,who had been convicted of murder and rape, admitted that he alone was responsible for the attack on the Central Park jogger. On December 19, 2002, based on new DNA evidence that proved Korey’s innocence and on the recommendation of the Manhattan District Attorney, Wise’s conviction was overturned. He spent  11.5 years of his life in prison for crimes he did not commit. The investigation has raised questions regarding police coercion and false confessions, as well as the vulnerability of juveniles during police interrogations.

“The biggest thing I want people to take from it is not only that our justice system is really screwed up, but so are the people running it. We don’t have a good checks and balance system to ensure that wrongful convictions aren’t taking place. That’s really the big picture scope.”

Kristine Bunch languished behind bars for more than 17 years after she was arrested and charged with setting a fire that claimed the life of her three-year-old son, Anthony, on June 30, 1995. On March 21, 2012, the court reversed the conviction based on evolving and more reliable fire science and because undisclosed ATF evidence contradicted trial testimony which argued that Bunch had started the fire. Bunch, who had earned undergraduate degrees in English and anthropology from Ball State University in prison, was freed 17 years, after her wrongful arrest. She walked out of the Decatur County Jail, where she had been sent to await retrial, and into the arms of her family, who had steadfastly supported her throughout her ordeal. Today, Bunch is an advocate for people exonerated of wrongful conviction. She co-founded and co-runs a non-profit organization called Justice4JustUs, which connects exonerated individuals to social and medical services to help them rebuild their lives.

Exonerated and Freed People Malcolm Alexander

An ineffective trial lawyer and flawed eyewitness identification procedure destroyed the lives of Malcolm Alexander and his family for 38 years.

In February 1980, a white woman accused Alexander, who is black, of sexual assault in Louisiana. Alexander maintained his innocence. A review of the one-day trial transcript revealed that his attorney, who was subsequently disbarred, failed to make an opening statement, did not call any witnesses for the defense, failed to adequately cross-examine the state’s witnesses, and presented a closing argument that was a mere four pages of the 87-page transcript. Alexander was wrongfully convicted and received a life sentence. Alexander never gave up the fight to prove his innocence. In 2013, hair evidence recovered from the location where the rape took place was found at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office Crime Lab. Three crime scene hairs had the same DNA profile that did not match to Alexander or the victim. Alexander was exonerated in January of 2018. He is the Innocence Project’s longest-serving exonerated client. Today he is a member of the Innocence Project Exoneree Advisory Council.

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