General

OUR TOP TEN REASONS TO BE THANKFUL – 2019

 Thanks for Coach Pierce and the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks!

Atlanta Hawks Head Coach Lloyd Pierce is passionate about correcting and preventing wrongful convictions. So he and the Atlanta Hawks have partnered with Georgia Innocence Project to raise awareness about wrongful convictions in Georgia. They’ve created co-branded Hawks-GIP merchandise to help spread the word and financially support GIP. And Coach Pierce has been speaking far and wide about how wrongful convictions occur and why we all should care about this important issue. We’re so grateful to all be on the same team!

 Thanks for judicial recognition of the need to do justice.

Imagine being a lawyer and having to tell your wrongfully convicted client that it does not matter that they are innocent; that truth is irrelevant at such a late stage. Welcome to our work. Recently however, two Georgia Supreme Court Justices recognized that enough is enough when it comes to such a miscarriage of justice. It was in Devonia Inman’s case, where GIP fought to prove that post-conviction DNA testing revealed innocence and lawyers from Troutman Sanders are now fighting for habeas corpus relief. Presiding Justice Nahmias and Chief Justice Melton reminded us all that “everyone involved in our criminal justice system should dread the conviction and incarceration of innocent people,” noting that even when the Court’s hands are tied, prosecutors such as Georgia’s Attorney General’s Office may always exercise their discretion to seek justice – to do the right thing. “Let justice be done,” said Justice Nahmias. We couldn’t agree more.

 Thanks for the time we got to spend with Bobbie Jean Johnson.

Bobbie Jean Johnson was wrongly convicted at 19 years old and spent over 40 years in a Louisiana prison for a crime she did not commit. Upon gaining her freedom thanks to innocence organizations in Louisiana, she moved to Georgia and became a part of GIP’s family, joining our monthly exoneree gatherings and charming everyone she met. Decades of Louisiana prison health care, however, had done profound and lasting damage to Bobbie Jean’s body. Our spunky friend – full of love, kindness and gratitude – sadly passed away last month, less than two years after her release. Bobbie Jean was a victim of a broken and dehumanizing criminal legal system and her life was tragically cut way too short. She was, however, surrounded by many people who loved and admired her during her short stay in the free world. We are so very grateful for the time we spent with her, and we will keep up the fight for justice in her memory and honor.

  Thanks for educators who are raising awareness.

This year dozens of grade school educators worked with GIP, exonerees and supporters to educate thousands of students about the causes, consequences, and remedies of wrongful conviction. Our shared goal is that when these young students grow up to be jurors, police officers, prosecutors, judges, defense attorneys, legislators and public citizens, the lessons they learned about wrongful convictions will inform their perspectives and guide their decisions.Journalists, reporters, and producers of all kind also raise awareness and educate us all about all aspects of wrongful conviction through news stories, documentaries, podcasts, tv shows, and movies. We are so grateful to you for sharing these lessons in so many ways, and inspiring us to learn from mistakes of the past, celebrate our successes, and maximize the potential for positive change.

  Thanks for prosecutors who consent to DNA testing and ensure that convictions have integrity.

Shouldn’t we all want to ensure that the right person was convicted of a crime? A prosecutor’s job is to see that justice is done. We are grateful for prosecutors who work towards that goal — to identify the actual perpetrator of a crime, and especially when that means admitting when the State got it wrong. We applaud your courage and hope that more will follow your lead.

  Thanks for the legislature.

Every single person, regardless of political persuasion, can and should agree that innocent people should not be incarcerated in prison. By making it easier for the imprisoned innocent to receive justice, and by correcting the causes of wrongful conviction, the legislature can improve the criminal legal system for everyone and help restore credibility. We stand with Georgia’s legislature in their efforts to do justice.

 Thanks for everyone who works to preserve physical evidence.

Post-conviction DNA testing to prove innocence is only successful when there is physical evidence to test. Yet again and again we see that evidence has been lost, discarded or destroyed, sometimes in clear violation of evidence preservation laws. Thanks to all the individuals and jurisdictions throughout Georgia that have worked to preserve physical evidence and, along with it, the hope for the imprisoned innocent that one day the truth may set them free.

  Thanks for pro-bono counsel, volunteers and students.

You give your heart and soul to this work. We could never do it alone. Ben Goldberg, King & Spalding, our partners at Southern Center for Human Rights, Eversheds Sutherland, Troutman Sanders, Innocence Project, Alston & Bird, Nelson Mullins, and so many others. Your time and resources are precious, and we — and our clients — are so grateful for your help in this struggle.

  Thanks for the hope and perseverance of our clients and exonerees.

Imagine marking time; hash marks for each day, month, year, decade that you sit in prison for a crime you did not commit. These men and women endure profound suffering, yet they still have so much compassion and hope left to give. Our hearts go out to you. Our clients and exonerees are our inspiration.

 AND THANKS FOR YOU!

You, our donors and supporters, make possible everything we do. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for enabling GIP to provide free legal representation to people convicted of crimes they did not commit. Thank you for helping us investigate cases and track down evidence in dusty storerooms. Thank you for making it possible for our exonerees to gather each month, educate others, and give and receive support. We are deeply grateful for you and your support.

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