The Innocent Convicts
Film is a powerful tool to expose injustice, galvanize action and hold the powerful accountable. Osagie N. Okoruwa
At The Innocent Convicts, we work with innocent defendants in federal, state and local prisons who are victims of wrongful incarceration. Our work uses film, public arts and civic engagement to bring attention to the plight of victims and their families who suffer grave penalties for crimes they never committed.
In one of our hallmark products-The Innocent Convicts documentary film brings much needed attention to the causes and aftermath of wrongful convictions, by examining several incidents around the U.S. including the story of Tim Cole, a Texas Tech student and Army Veteran who lost his life fighting for his freedom due to further injustice-namely, the withholding of medication while he was wrongly incarcerated. Please click on the video above to play the Trailer.
Principal photography on the first six episodes of The Innocent Convicts has been completed. We’ve conducted interviews and shot accompanying videos in Texas, North Carolina, California, Wisconsin and Minnesota in connection with the stories of Tim Cole, Audrey Edmunds, Uriah Courtney, Mike Hansen, Lamont McCoy and The Monfils Six.
Audrey Edmunds is a Wisconsin stay-at-home mom who babysat for neighborhood families. Edmunds was accused of killing a child in her care based on “Shaken Baby Syndrome” theories, sentenced to 18 years, and served nearly 11 of those before she was able to present new research and evidence casting doubt on Shaken Baby Syndrome. Edmunds’ conviction was overturned.
Uriah Courtney is a San Diego man who, like Tim Cole, was also wrongfully convicted of a rape he didn’t commit. Courtney’s story, fortunately, has a happier ending than Cole’s because DNA evidence cleared him before he could languish and die in prison.
Mike Hansen is a Minnesota man who was wrongfully convicted of killing his infant daughter, based mainly on questionable medical expert testimony. Hansen served six years of a 14-year sentence before the Innocence Project stepped in to help him.
At the age of 18, Lamont McKoy was sentenced to life in prison in connection with a North Carolina drug deal that resulted in a homicide. McCoy has never wavered in his claims of innocence, refused to take a plea deal, and today — 28 years later — still stands by that declaration. Four years after McKoy’s conviction, witnesses, investigators and prosecutors involved with a different drug case presented evidence in federal court indicating that McKoy wasn’t actually responsible for the crime. Yet that information and testimony, which could potentially clear McKoy, has never been allowed into a state court for a hearing. Duke University School of Law’s Wrongful Convictions Clinic is fighting to prove his innocence.
THE MONFILS SIX Top: Keith Kutska, Dale Basten, Rey Moore
Bottom: Mike Hirn, Mike Piaskowski, Mike Johnson
“The Monfils Six” is a case involving six men who were convicted of killing a co-worker (Tom Monfils) at a Green Bay, Wisconsin paper mill in the early 1990s. One of them, Mike Piaskowski, was released in 2001. Another, Dale Basten, died in 2018 after being released due to his deteriorating health. Mike Hirn was released in December 2018 after nearly a quarter century behind bars. Mike Johnson and Rey Moore were released in July 2019. Keith Kutska remains incarcerated. Thanks to an exhaustive investigative effort by two authors who spent seven years writing a book about the convictions (The Monfils Conspiracy), new attorneys are taking a fresh look at the case. Did police and prosecutorial tunnel vision result in the most egregious miscarriage of justice in Wisconsin history?
The goal of The Innocent Convicts is to reframe the discourse around such policing practices that often lead to wrongful imprisonment; create awareness and prompt policy makers to sit up, take notice, and advance legal/institutional/community-wide initiatives to end wrongful convictions.
From the early '70s to present day, America has seen a huge increase in the arrest and sentencing of Innocent citizens. As of today, the National Registry of Exonerations lists about 2,640 men and women who’ve been cleared of wrongful convictions in the last 25 years. 47 percent were Black and 40 percent had been incarcerated for at least ten years before their exoneration. Leaders of the Registry, believe the list represents just a sliver of the true number of those falsely accused and still imprisoned.
As part of our national campaign to abolish wrongful imprisonment, we are screening The Innocent Convicts before law enforcement, elected officials, at educational institutions, community organizations and the general public. We've shown the film at select locations including at the Massachusetts State Assembly to a rave review.
The Innocent Convicts has secured support from PBS stations around the country to air this documentary. PBS stations in Albuquerque, Baltimore, Bemidji/Brainerd, Chicago (both WTTW and WYCC), Lincoln, Lubbock, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Sacramento and Topeka have provided either Letters of Support, Interest, or Intent to Air, or expressed interest in becoming the production’s presenting station. The program will be distributed nationally, either through a presenting station, through the National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA), American Public Television (APT), the PBS Network Operations Center, Westlink, or other methods of distribution.
For more information, or to support the completion of The Innocent Convicts films, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
To make a fully tax-deductible donation to help fund the film, click on our Donate Page: https://www.theinnocentconvicts.org/donate
"The first event I attended sponsored by The Innocent Convicts was held in January 2020 at the State House in Boston. It was impactful and profound, and gave me the chance to hear real stories and see the faces of black men that had been wrongly convicted. As a result, it stirred something within and I wanted to get involved-showing support for the organization. I asked one of the IC Partners when I can attend another event, bringing more attention to an unjust system which disproportionately affects black men and continues to plague our communities."
Carolyn Potts - Percussionist, North Shore, MA