WRONGFUL CONVICTION DAY
Wrongful Conviction Day is internationally and annually held on October 2nd to raise awareness of the causes and consequences of wrongful convictions and to recognize the tremendous personal, social, and emotional costs they take on innocent people and their families.
Georgia Innocence Project and the Innocence Network urge you to help raise awareness about the causes and consequences of wrongful convictions on this important day.
Learn more and join the discussion at: #WrongfulConvictionDay @gainnocence iwcd.org
Each year on Wrongful Conviction Day GIP partners with local educators, volunteers, and exonerees to teach students about the problem of wrongful convictions. By presenting facts and stories about our criminal legal system and the impact of wrongful convictions, we hope to inspire young people to engage with our work.
Wrongful Conviction Day 2020
This year continued GIP's tradition, described below, of raising awareness as GIP and exonerees joined educators at 11 Georgia schools to speak to over 2,000 students about wrongful convictions. Additionally, GIP joined the more than 60 innocence organizations that make up The Innocence Network for a full day of engaging digital content from 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. ET on October 2, 2020. Following a summer of racial reckoning, this year's theme, "Justice & Accountability" focused on official misconduct and the intersection of race and wrongful convictions.
Watch a recording of the discussion here as Executive Director Clare Gilbert and Communications Manager Marissa Gaston, who serves as co-chair of GIP’s Antiracism Working Group, sat down with Atlanta Hawks' Head Coach Lloyd Pierce, Head of UGA Law’s Prosecutorial Justice Program Melissa Redmon, and GIP Board Member Jimmie Gardner, a former minor league baseball player and exoneree who spent 27 years wrongfully imprisoned, 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. Watch the recording now!
Test your knowledge in the name of education (and a bit of healthy competition), take this quiz on the causes and consequences of wrongful conviction. Share your results on Facebook and challenge your friends!
Wrongful Conviction Curriculum
Our "Wrongful Conviction 101/201" fact sheet distills an entire course-worth of wrongful conviction information into a two-sided page that can then be distributed to students and form the basis of an educational session about wrongful convictions. With the help of representatives from Decatur High School, Georgia State University, and the Galloway School, we were able to update the fact sheet in 2019 and expand upon its lessons to build a more intensive curriculum set.
We are excited to continue to develop this curriculum in years to come with the help of the dedicated local educators who are engaged in this program.
The Trial of Cardigan Jones
To include younger students in our Wrongful Conviction Day program, we encouraged local elementary schools and libraries to share a reading of The Trial of Cardigan Jones. This children's book, written by Tim Egan, tells a charming story about a hapless moose who is wrongfully accused of stealing a woman’s pie.
The story follows Cardigan’s experiences from ‘crime’ to arrest through trial, and is an excellent primer on the basics of the criminal legal system and the presumption of innocence, and the importance of not jumping to conclusions. Pictured here is one of our Staff Attorneys and Sgt. Bender reading the book to students.
Wrapping It Up
In celebration of the conclusion of Wrongful Conviction Day, GIP hosts a gathering. Presenters, educators, and supporters are all invited to this event to reflect on the day and discuss the causes, consequences, and remedies for wrongful convictions. This past year, in 2019, GIP invited guests to the Georgia Beer Garden, where they were also able to participate in a Wrongful Convictions Trivia competition.
Pictured here are five of the exonerees who shared their stories in the presentations given on Wrongful Conviction Day 2019. (Left to Right: Marquis Jackson, Clarence Harrison, John White, Calvin Johnson, Jimmie Gardner)
On Wrongful Conviction Day 2020, with the help of GIP staff, local educators, five board members, three volunteers, and six exonerees, we were able to reach over 2,000 students in 13 schools throughout Atlanta and Macon in. This was our third year hosting this type of event, and we were able to reach more students in our community, work with local educators to improve and expand our curriculum set, and create more options for student engagement in all age groups. In consideration of the impact of COVID-19 in our schools and communities, we shifted our presentations to an entirely virtual experience this year, which turned out to be a great success and will pave the way for more accessible programming in the years to come!
How It Works
1. DISTRIBUTE CURRICULUM
We confirm the local educators who are interested in hosting a GIP presentation at their school on Wrongful Conviction Day. Then, we share curriculum materials that can be used to educate their students about wrongful convictions prior to the presentation.
2. PREPARE SPEAKERS
Once the participating schools are confirmed, we recruit our volunteer presenters - typically GIP staff, colleagues, board members, and exonerees. We host training sessions with them to prepare for the presentations and to connect them with the representative educators for their assigned schools.
3. COORDINATE PRESENTATIONS
On Wrongful Conviction Day, the teams give their presentations, which are catered to the specific student groups (class size, subject matter, grade level, etc) at each school. When possible, we try to ensure that each team includes an exoneree, who can share their story with the students.