Wrongful Conviction and Innocence Work Have No Boundaries

Last year the University of Cincinnati College of Law’s Rosenthal Institute for Justice/Ohio Innocence Project (OIP) hosted the 2011 Innocence Network Conference: An International Exploration of Wrongful Conviction at Freedom Center in Cincinnati (details here). It was the first international conference focusing on the global human rights problem of wrongful conviction. The four-day event (April 7-10, 2011) was an extraordinary gathering of 500 attendees, including scholars, lawyers, and more than 100 exonerees from around the world who met, networked, participated in seminars, and attended addresses on wrongful conviction. Mark Godsey, Director of the Ohio Innocence Project, described the event as “the first conference bringing the world together to discuss this issue.”

The 2011 Annual Review of the OIP (here) noted that “organizers hoped that the event would serve as a springboard for galvanizing the innocence movement into a unified, international human rights movement. To that end international attendees came from more than 25 countries, including Canada, Japan, China, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Chile, England, Ireland, Australia, Nigeria, Norway, South Africa, Czech Republic, Singapore, and Switzerland.”

The Conference no doubt advanced the exchange of countless ideas, best practices, and strategies for increasing awareness of wrongful conviction and advocating recommended remedies.

At the risk of being self-serving, I share an outcome particularly remarkable to this writer. One of the conference attendees from China was Professor of Law Gu Yongzhong. He purchased the book False Justice – Eight Myths that Convict the Innocent that I co-authored with my husband Jim Petro, former attorney general of Ohio. While we were unaware of this, the professor translated the book into Chinese last summer. He then contacted Mark Godsey who introduced us to the professor via email. He told us that there was interest in publishing the book in China. I am pleased to share the news that False Justice is being published by Peking University Press with a release date of November 1, and is now on Amazon for the Chinese audience (here).

Some would call this pure serendipity, but in fact it took a conference to lay the groundwork for a book on wrongful conviction written in Ohio to reach Chinese readers. Thanks to the editor of this blog, Mark Godsey, and so many others who have been on the front lines of the Innocence Movement, ours was just one of countless seeds planted at last year’s international wrongful conviction conference that have come to harvest on the other side of the world.

Those in the Innocence Network who’ve worked tirelessly for the wrongfully convicted and to advance best practices in criminal justice have had to persevere against many obstacles. It can be discouraging and exhausting work, and there is still much to do. However, it is also becoming more and more apparent that three decades of this dedicated effort is creating fertile soil for the cause of truth in justice.

4 responses to “Wrongful Conviction and Innocence Work Have No Boundaries

  1. False Justice is having an impact all around the world. Just one additional example, when I was speaking in the Czech Republic earlier this year promoting innocence work with Czech DNA expert Daniel Vanek, Daniel revealed to me that it was his reading a copy of False Justice that got him fired up to to start exploring innocence work in the Czech Republic. He read the entire book on an international flight. When he finished the book, he couldn’t wait for the plane to land to get started. You and Jim are an intergral part of the Innocence Movement both here and abroad.

  2. Mark, thank you for this amazing story. We would never have anticipated that the book would have had far-reaching impact. The two instances in other nations that we now know of, never would have happened without your work, starting with your call to Jim about Clarence Elkins and later, as you have provided international leadership. Thank you for sharing this story. Jim is particularly thrilled because of his Czech heritage.

  3. Pingback: International Expansion of the Innocence Movement in 2012 | Wrongful Convictions Blog

  4. Jeanette Weigel

    Awesome when someone is set free of any crime that they truly did not commit. Life is meant to be lived out, in freedom, and to live without the burdens of undeserved pain and suffering, in a system, that may have breaks in its arena’s of Truth and Error. It was a pleasure to meet Jim Petro and Nancy Petro, in the Summer of 2013, at Lakeside Chautauqua. They spoke on Wrongful Conviction: Rethinking American Criminal Justice.

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