Learn – Wrongful Conviction Day

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

Program Overview

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 justice system we hope to inspire young people to engage with our work.

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 for the very young 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 class of elementary 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)

2019 Stats

 On Wrongful Conviction Day 2019, 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. This was our second 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.

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.