This 12 months introduced intense new challenges to communities everywhere in the world. Because the Covid-19 pandemic continued, so did its devastation. However, regardless of many moments of sorrow and battle, we’ve additionally seen small steps ahead, and celebrated moments of sunshine.
Our 12 months on the Innocence Undertaking has been stuffed with many wins as we’ve overcome new and distinctive challenges. With courts opening again up this 12 months, the wheels of justice progressively returned to their gradual flip. Legislators from Oregon to Rhode Island moved ahead with essential insurance policies to guard the communities they characterize. And households world wide had been safely reunited with their family members, together with a number of of our lately freed shoppers.
As 2021 involves a detailed, we on the Innocence Undertaking are reflecting on the numerous events for pleasure we skilled this 12 months. Beneath are a few of our most cherished moments of the 12 months:
1. Rosa Jimenez reunites together with her youngsters
In January, after 17 years of wrongful incarceration in Texas, Rosa Jimenez was lastly freed. Ms. Jimenez, who gave delivery to her son in jail, however was by no means allowed to carry him, was lastly in a position to hug each her youngsters.
2. The Innocence Undertaking made its TikTok debut
@innocenceMalcolm spent 38 years wrongly imprisoned in Louisiana. He’s nonetheless combating for compensation with Inn by his facet. #tiktokdog #dogsoftiktok #doglove♬ Will to Live – Jacob Yoffee
This 12 months, we had been overwhelmed by the assist Pervis Payne obtained from the unimaginable group of advocates on TikTok. Over 750,000 individuals signed our petition in assist of Mr. Payne, who was dealing with execution in Tennessee, after studying about his case on TikTok — and we had been so impressed by your motion, we determined to hitch you on the platform.
3. A uncommon second of prosecutorial accountability
In April, former Dallas County prosecutor Richard “Rick” Jackson was disbarred as a consequence of his “skilled misconduct.” Mr. Jackson withheld proof within the instances of two males — Dennis Allen and Stanley Mozee — in 2000, resulting in each of their wrongful convictions. Mr. Allen and Mr. Mozee had been each exonerated in 2019.
“…it’s thrilling to me to know he’s been held accountable.”“…it’s thrilling to me to know he’s been held accountable.”
“I’m not an individual who holds grudges and I don’t have onerous emotions towards anyone or in the direction of the judicial system, nevertheless it’s thrilling to me to know he’s been held accountable,” stated Mr. Mozee.
4. Jonathan Smith uplifted in pleasure
After 21 years of wrongful imprisonment, Jonathan Smith walked out of a Maryland jail into the loving arms of his two sons in April. This shifting photograph captured their first embrace exterior of jail partitions in additional than twenty years.
5. Introducing “Happiest Moments”
Reflecting on life’s happiest and heaviest moments, we created our first ever anthem video this 12 months, that includes three of our unimaginable shoppers — Termaine Hicks, Rosa Jimenez, and Huwe Burton.
6. A primary within the nation
This 12 months we noticed highly effective coverage reforms throughout the nation — in truth, our staff helped cross 20 insurance policies in 16 states this 12 months. In a historic transfer, Illinois and Oregon each banned the usage of misleading techniques in police interrogations of youth. They’re the primary states to take action.
7. A serious step to guard privateness
In one other historic effort, Maryland became the first state to control the usage of forensic genetic family tree — a way utilized by regulation enforcement to establish suspects by analyzing their relations’ DNA and developing “household timber.” The regulation helps shield the privateness of harmless individuals and acknowledges the facility and accountability of DNA applied sciences, whereas advancing equity within the system.
8. Rhode Island and Idaho undertake compensation legal guidelines for exonerees
Each Rhode Island and Idaho, two states which beforehand didn’t supply any compensation to wrongly convicted individuals, handed legal guidelines to handle this injustice. Each states will now present compensation to wrongly convicted individuals — a significant win that brings the full variety of states that now supply compensation to wrongly convicted individuals to 37.
9. A celebration dance
In October, Philip Barnett and his brother, Nathan — who was represented by the West Virginia Innocence Project and Jason Goad of McClure Goad PLLC — had been exonerated after almost 14 years of wrongful conviction. Although each brothers had been beforehand freed, seeing their names cleared eventually was life altering, and after the event Philip couldn’t assist however dance a bit of.
10. Julius Jones’ life saved
On Nov. 18, simply hours earlier than Julius Jones was scheduled to be executed, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt spared Mr. Jones’ life and granted him clemency within the type of life in jail with out parole. We all know too properly from the 186 individuals who have been exonerated from demise row that there are basic flaws within the administration of the demise penalty. Granting Mr. Jones clemency prevented an irreversible injustice, however the struggle for justice nonetheless continues.
11. Historical past corrected within the case of Malcolm X’s assassination
After half a century, Muhammad Aziz and the late Khalil Islam — wrongly convicted for the assassination of Malcolm X — had been exonerated in November. Their exoneration was simply step one in correcting the report of this darkish second in American historical past and righting an injustice that has stood for 50 years.
“Whereas I don’t want this courtroom, these prosecutors, or a chunk of paper to inform me I’m harmless, I’m glad that my household, my associates, and the attorneys who’ve labored and supported me all these years are lastly seeing the reality we’ve got all recognized formally acknowledged,” Mr. Aziz stated at his exoneration listening to.
12. Pervis Payne faraway from demise row after 33 years
Within the final two years, tons of of hundreds have spoken out in assist of Pervis Payne, a Black man with an mental incapacity who has spent the final 33 years on demise row in Tennessee. In November, Mr. Payne was lastly faraway from demise row after the Shelby County district legal professional conceded that Mr. Payne is an individual with an mental incapacity, making it unconstitutional to execute him. Mr. Payne’s struggle for justice continues, however his life is now not on the road after three many years — a sure trigger for celebration.