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It was December of 2006 and I was applying for a communications internship at the Innocence Project. I wrote the following in a cover letter directed to their communications department:
Every time a wrongfully convicted person is released from prison, we must wonder to ourselves what it must have been like to deal with such a tragedy. Imagine walking freely in the streets of America one day - doing as you please - only to be picked up and thrown in prison the next. Suddenly, you are expected to be sit for an eternity in a 8 x 8 x 12 prison cell, thinking about the horrors of a crime that you did not commit, a crime you know virtually nothing about. The unnecessary trials and tribulations of a wrongful conviction don't just bring a great deal of pain to the exoneree, but to the exoneree's family as well.
"Who would want to be a prosecutor, knowing that if they made a mistake then people are going to be clamoring for them to go to jail?" Those were the words chosen by former prosecutor Robert Rogers in a recent CNN interview when commenting on current Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins's idea of holding prosecutors criminally responsible for knowingly sending innocent people to prison.
The story does not get old. Eyewitness misidentification is the leading cause of wrongful convictions in the United States. More than 75 percent of the 216 people exonerated by DNA testing so far in the U.S. were convicted partly because of a series of failures in the eyewitness identification process.
Earlier today, the Innocence Project helped free another innocent man from prison, after more than a decade-long investigation into his case. "He was convicted based on a deeply flawed and completely unreliable eyewitness identification," said Barry Scheck, Co-Director of the Innocence Project.