Learn – Hawks Partnership


"Join me in taking a stand and speaking out against wrongful convictions." - Coach Pierce

Wrongful Conviction Day 2020

On October 2, 2020 at 4pm join Coach Pierce and other community leaders went live for "Race & Wrongful Conviction: Moving from Outrage to Action," a conversation about how we can become allies, individually and collectively, to move from a place of awareness and outrage to action. View the discussion here and learn more about Wrongful Conviction Day here.

How does this partnership help fight wrongful convictions?

Georgia Innocence Project is the voice for the imprisoned innocent in Georgia, and Coach Pierce and the Atlanta Hawks are helping to amplify and expand that voice.

  • Coach Pierce has recorded four public service announcements about the causes and consequences of wrongful convictions (see below).
  • He was the keynote speaker at the 2019 Innocence Network Conference Exoneree Banquet.
  • Coach Pierce is also helping to raise awareness about wrongful convictions in Georgia by introducing Hawks fans to GIP’s work through social media and co-branded merchandise available at home games or on the online Hawks team store.
  • The Hawks will also dedicate a portion of the proceeds to GIP, and have invited GIP and friends to several games.

Thank you Coach Pierce and Atlanta Hawks for this amazing opportunity! We are so excited to have you on our team, fighting for justice and working to raise awareness and remedy wrongful convictions in Georgia. We are also very grateful to the Innocence Network Support Unit and the NBA Coaches Association for initiating this partnership.

Help Raise Awareness About Wrongful Convictions

Wrongful convictions are a big problem. Studies estimate that roughly 5% of people incarcerated in prison in the United States are innocent - meaning they did not commit the crime they were convicted of.  The number of innocent people currently locked away in prison would fill the entire State Farm Arena, where the Hawks play their home games, more than three times over!

Coach Pierce and Exonerees

Coach Pierce hosted GIP and several wrongly convicted men and women at an Atlanta Dream WNBA game, and gave us a tour of the Hawks’ locker room. The exonerees pictured here with Coach Pierce spent roughly 142 years wrongfully imprisoned. 

Their convictions were caused by factors such as mistaken eyewitness identification, official misconduct, invalid forensic evidence, tunnel vision, false confession, inadequate defense, and an all-white jury.

Front row: John White (22 years wrongful imprisonment); Bobbie Jean Johnson (40 years wrongful imprisonment; Bobbie Jean sadly passed away in October 2019).  Back Row, L to R: Calvin Johnson (16 years wrongful imprisonment); Jimmie Gardner (27 years wrongful imprisonment); Coach Pierce; Yvonne and Clarence Harrison (Clarence spent 16 years wrongfully imprisoned); Marquis Jackson (19 years wrongful imprisonment).

About the Logos

The Atlanta Hawks logo is direct and to the point - an enhanced styling of their classic 1972 logo.

What does GIP's logo represent? It stands for:

  • Marking time, like on the walls of a prison cell.
  • The number 5: roughly 5% of people in prison in the US are actually innocent.
  • The bars of a prison door.

Launching the Partnership

At the Hawks game on November 20, 2019, Coach Pierce spoke to the crowd about the imprisonment of innocent people in Georgia and the devastating consequences on the entire criminal legal system.  He announced that he and the Hawks have teamed up with GIP to raise awareness about these important issues, and he mentioned the special-edition, co-branded Hawks-GIP merchandise that was created for the partnership. The promotion will run from November 2019 through September 2020, and the Hawks will donate 20% of the net proceeds to GIP.

GIP was introduced to the crowd over the jumbotron, and Coach Pierce’s wife Melissa (with baby daughter in tow) joined GIP Executive Director Clare Gilbert and Georgia exonerees Calvin Johnson, John White, and Clarence Harrison for the announcement. Game attendees learned that Calvin, John, and Clarence had spent over 55 years wrongfully imprisoned in Georgia.