Today, Oct. 2, is Wrongful Conviction Day — the annual international observance dedicated to ending wrongful convictions and highlighting the plight of those convicted of crimes they did not commit.
This year, Wrongful Conviction Day is highlighting the role that racial bias plays in wrongful convictions and the efforts to fix the criminal justice system in its entirety. Created by the Innocence Network in 2014, Wrongful Conviction Day aims to raise awareness of the causes and remedies of wrongful conviction and to recognize the tremendous personal, social and emotional costs of wrongful conviction for innocent people and their families.
“Wrongful Conviction Day is not only part of a movement, it is also always a personal day for everyone who works on behalf of the Ohio Innocence Project,” says Mark Godsey, the OIP’s co-founder and director.
“Today marks the first Wrongful Conviction Day celebrated in freedom for two more Ohio exonerees released this year, Ru-El Sailor and Christopher Miller. They spent a combined 32 years behind bars for crimes they did not commit. We celebrate their innocence, but also commit to redoubling our efforts to assist the innocent who are still imprisoned, along with our advocacy efforts to end the practices that most often produce wrongful convictions.”
As part of the nationwide celebrations, the National Basketball Coaches Association (NBCA) is helping bring attention to the observance. Eight NBA coaches have filmed public service announcements for Wrongful Conviction Day:
- Atlanta Hawks Head Coach Lloyd Pierce
- Boston Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens
- Charlotte Hornets Head Coach James Borrego
- Dallas Mavericks Head Coach Rick Carlisle
- Detroit Pistons Head Coach Dwane Casey
- Indiana Pacers Head Coach Nate McMillan
- New Orleans Pelicans Head Coach Alvin Gentry
- Portland Trail Blazers Assistant Coach David Vanterpool
More than 40 events are taking place in five countries, with many throughout various states in the U.S., including:
- The Virginia Innocence Project Pro Bono Clinic, which is part of the Innocence Project at UVA Law, will hold a panel discussion of criminal defense leaders and wrongfully convicted men and women at Caplin Pavilion. Presenters include exoneree, attorney and the Innocence Project’s first Post-Conviction Litigation Fellow Jarrett Adams; Jason Flom, CEO of Lava Records and a founding board member of the Innocence Project; and attorney Dean Strang, featured on the Netflix documentary “Making a Murderer” and professor at UVA Law school.
- The University of Illinois Springfield campus quad is installing flags to represent each person exonerated since 1989.
- The Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago (BOMA) building will be illuminated in honor of Wrongful Conviction Day from Oct. 1-Oct. 6.
- The City of Tallahassee has created a proclamation to formally recognize October 2 as Wrongful Conviction Day.
- There will be additional local film screenings, exoneree and expert led discussions, and network organization fundraisers across the country.
Members of the public are encouraged to photograph events and post their pictures to social media using the hashtag #WrongfulConvictionDay and tag @theOhioInnProj.
Meanwhile, a social media campaign that will be launched later today includes a Twitter Takeover with the hashtag #WrongfulConvictionDay at 3pm EST/12pm PST.
For further information, please visit iwcd.org.