"The Case for Innocence"
Justice Denied readers will have seen Frontline on Tuesday, January 11, 2000, by the time we publish.
Since this show is often broadcasted more than once, we urge those who have not seen it
to consult their schedules for reruns. You may also contact Frontline for transcripts of
the program. Some contact information is listed below.
FRONTLINE producer Ofra Bikel will be looking into why there are so many obstacles to overcome for innocent people in prison. A quote from the advance notice about this show: "New DNA testing has given the criminal justice system an unprecedented opportunity to re-examine cases of those who may have been unjustly convicted of serious crimes. Why, then, are so many who have been excluded by DNA evidence still imprisoned -- some on death row?"
The Case for Innocence was on Tuesday, January 11, 2000 at 10 p.m. on PBS (check your local listings).
One case, Earl Washington's, is examined. Governor Wilder commuted his sentence to life in prison rather than grant a pardon to Washington, and he keeps the DNA test results secret from even his own attorneys.
Two other cases will be featured. One is the Texas case of Roy Criner who despite two DNA tests in the past three years that refute the testimony that convicted him, nevertheless remains in prison. Clyde Charles, 46, was luckier because the evidence had not been lost or destroyed, as it has been in most similar cases and lucky because the Innocence Project successfully sued the state in 1998 to allow Charles to be retested.. He made national news a few days before Christmas when he walked out of the Louisiana State penitentiary at Angola, cleared by DNA evidence after serving 18 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.
Law Professor Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project at New York's Benjamin N. Cardozo Law School at Yeshiva University has helped free Charles and almost 70 other inmates with DNA testing techniques that were not available when the men were convicted.
Those who have previewed this program say that we will observe that innocence is not a basis for getting out of prison, because many prosecutors refuse to reopen cases after DNA evidence shows they have jailed the wrong man.
After the broadcast, viewers are urged to visit the film's companion web site at www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/case/index.html for more on this report including surprising facts and statistics on DNA evidence and the criminal justice system. JD readers will want to take a closer look at some of the cases covered in "The Case for Innocence," read a selection of the extended interviews. Also available is the 1999 report from the National Commission on the Future of DNA Evidence on how DNA test results have threatened the credibility of the nation's courts.
To get a tape of the show, contact PBS video at 1-800 344-3337 (East Coast) or 1-800 328-7271 (West Coast).
Ofra Bikel has been responsible for many important FRONTLINE programs, and this one is an absolute must-see.
After you see this show, we hope you will be moved to action in behalf of the wrongly convicted.
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