Today marks the second anniversary of the day
walked out of a New York courthouse a free man for the first time in two decades. He was able to rejoin his family after spending 20 consecutive Thanksgivings behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit.
His mother, Sylvia, told reporters after Stephen’s release in 2008 that she had worked for two decades to help overturn the injustice her son had suffered and that his exoneration was “
nothing short of a miracle
.” Watch a video interview with Barnes about his case above.
The average DNA exoneree served 13 years in prison before bring freed. In that time, opportunities to start families or to go to school and establish careers come and go. Children grow up, grandchildren are born and relatives and friends pass away. Many exonerees, like Michael A. Green, could not attend the funerals of their parents and relatives because they were in prison for crimes they didn’t commit. Others, like Alan Northrop of Washington, went to prison when their children were toddlers and didn’t seem them again until they were in their teens.
And while DNA testing has exonerated 261 people in the U.S., there are countless other innocent people spending today behind bars. The list of cases in which there is no evidence to test, or where access to that evidence has been denied, is seemingly endless. It is impossible to exonerate every innocent person in prison – only through
can we prevent wrongful convictions from happening in the first place.
This Thanksgiving, we’re thankful for the supporters around the world who help us fight wrongful convictions and for the thousands of advocates fighting injustice in their communities. Please join us today in
to overturn injustice and to fix our criminal justice system to prevent wrongful convictions in the future.