Keep fighting for your innocence

The first time I attended the Innocence Network Conference in 2014, I had to be coaxed into going. Greg Hampikian, director of the Idaho Innocence Project, informed me that not only was the conference going to be held in Portland, Oregon — a mere three-hour drive from where I lived in Seattle — but it was also about time that I met the crew. It’s all love! Hampikian promised. But I wasn’t sure.

The notoriety of my case made me feel claustrophobic. Could I handle walking into a room full of hundreds of people who might judge me? More importantly, I was not yet exonerated. I had, in fact, been very recently re-convicted. Did I even belong? At first glance, the conference was not only a nerve-wracking ride I had never been on, but I didn’t know if I met the height requirement.

The Innocence Network, it turned out, had a term for this: “still fighting.” That is, not “officially innocent.”

Unlike me, there are many innocent people who do not find the clear, satisfying justice of exoneration. Sometimes, a prosecutor can be made to see that there were deficiencies with a conviction, but may not believe — or want to admit — that the conviction was wrong.

In such cases, the Innocence Project can help people achieve freedom only by reaching an agreement with the prosecutor short of full exoneration, such as for “time served.” If the client agrees, she is freed, but she faces, as I was facing, the prospect of having to suffer indefinitely the disparity between a recognized, official verdict of guilt and the unrecognized, unofficial fact of one’s innocence.

Convinced by Hampikian’s optimism, I did attend. And I’m so glad I did because he was right: the people involved in the Innocence Project are incredible. They embraced me as a little sister. They assured me I was safe, that nothing was expected of me, that everyone was just pleased to finally get to know me.

I found a community brimming with love and understanding. That community has supported, and continues to support, me and countless others wrongfully convicted. The innocent individual who has not yet been exonerated — even more than the exoneree — is the symbol of the Innocence Project, because before the world can make your innocence official, someone must fight for it.

At the time of the case against Raffaele Sollecito and me in Italy, there was no Innocence Project in Italy. There was no organization that championed individual cases of actual innocence and advocated — through research, education and legislation — against the causes of wrongful conviction. The Italian Innocence Project exists as of 2015 and consists of just two legal experts, for now.

But the Innocence Network, the cooperative conglomeration of state-by-state Innocence Projects here in the United States, has existed since the first project was founded by Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University in New York City in 1992. Since its founding, 329 people have been exonerated in the United States, 20 of whom were on death row. The Innocence Project was directly involved in 176 of those cases. Equally important, it has helped to find 140 real perpetrators, bringing justice to the victims.

The Innocence Project not only works to overturn wrongful convictions of individual innocents, but also analyzes the causes of convictions that have been proven wrongful. It works to implement best practices and legislation that would help prevent future wrongful convictions, including: allowing convicts to carry out post-conviction testing, such as DNA testing; preservation of evidence; reforming eyewitness practices; recording interrogations to protect against false confessions/admissions; and abolishing the death penalty.

Finally, the organization works to pass legislation that would provide financial compensation to the victims of wrongful conviction who, along with their freedom, lost their financial security to years of debt and inertia.

The victims of wrongful conviction are deserving of justice and help. The dedicated persons involved in Innocence Projects throughout the United States, and now throughout the world, provide the necessary resources for those wrongfully convicted to be set free.

They also provide the crucial network of support for those set free to reclaim their lives in freedom—something I was reminded of when I attended the recent Innocence Network conference in 2015, fully exonerated and eager to give back the support I have received to those who are still fighting.

Originally published on 06/23/2015 by CNN Opinions here.

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70 Responses to Keep fighting for your innocence

  1. Paul Carr says:

    Did Hillary Rodham Clinton ever lift a finger for you?

  2. Gilbert Baumgartner says:

    Some call it an “Italian parallel case”, definitely evidence how insane THEY are there:
    http://www.lastampa.it/2015/07/27/italia/cronache/delitto-scazzi-la-sentenza-di-appello-AvpzFKH4nkGI1aRqaLItLL/pagina.html

    • William Benjamin says:

      The mother of the victim was told of the possible discovery of her missing daughter’s corpse, and the alleged complicity of her brother-in-law in her daughter’s murder, while being interviewed on live TV about her daughter’s unsolved disappearance. The mother was on a live satellite feed from that brother-in-law’s house when she found out. Her sister and niece just lost their appeals for the murder that allegedly occurred in that same house.
      http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/oct/07/sarah-scazzi-mother-hears-of-murder-on-tv

      I just clicked my slippers together and though to myself, “There’s no place like home”. Welcome home Dorothy Gale.

  3. William Benjamin says:

    Recently my attention has been drawn to the diligent work of the learned psychiatrist, Dr Andrew Hodges. I have also looked into Amanda’s letter home dated November 2007 and found something to add to Dr Hodges work. Utilizing proprietary inverse concatenative analysis, a process I uncovered in the ancient texts of the Orient, I have uncovered an astounding 109 instances of the phrase “dna”. How could she have known when she wrote that letter home in 2007, that “dna” would become such an item of significance years later. This is indeed suspicious considering that the official record demonstrates that she hadn’t even been considered as a suspect yet when she wrote that letter. Was it some unknowable agitation in her emotional state at that moment that provoked an occurrence of intuitive psychic behavior that even Amanda can’t understand or was it some from of mysterious conjunction of recent history and future that came out of her as she reflected upon that horrifying event. We may never know the whole story but what we do know is that this is the information that they did not want you to have. Even today years later they try to suppress it. But thanks to proprietary inverse concatenative analysis this information can now be shared, at least partly, but only for those who are bold enough to consider it. As I join in the important work of Dr Hodges there are two notable differences that should be disclosed. I am not credentialed, and I can prove it.

    • Tom Zupancic says:

      William Benjamin,

      First off, wow! Secondly, double wow!! Proprietary inverse concatenative analysis… After the fact one can only ask, ‘why didn’t I think of that’? Given the clear significance of intuitive psychic behavior… as you articulate so well… it simply hits you on the head. All I can add is triple wow!!!

    • Paula says:

      How would she know in that letter home in 2007 that dna would become such an item of significane probably because she watched shows like CSI which constantly harp on about dna found at murder scene. Andrew hodges is a birther who claims Obama tells that he wasnt born in USA that kind of idiot can not be believed.

  4. Tom Zupancic says:

    Here is a great article about the inherent problems with criminal justice systems; “12 reasons to worry about our criminal justice system, from a prominent conservative federal judge” https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/07/14/12-reasons-to-worry-about-our-criminal-justice-system-from-a-prominent-conservative-federal-judge/

    A few things here seem vaguely familiar: Eyewitnesses are highly reliable; Other types of forensic evidence are scientifically proven and therefore infallible; DNA evidence is infallible; Human memories are reliable; Confessions are infallible because innocent people never confess; Prosecutors play fair; The prosecution is at a substantial disadvantage because it must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt; Police are objective in their investigations… for some reason these issues come to mind.

  5. Mark Saha says:

    Amanda,

    I sincerely hope at some point that you will take legal action against Dr. Andrew Hodges.

    There is no empirical evidence for the existence of a “super intelligence” or “thought prints,” which makes it difficult to imagine a basis for his professional opinion. His interpretation of your alleged “thought prints” is vindictive and has not revealed anything he did not first read in tabloids or hear from prosecutors or police investigators.

    There is no evidence for the existence of a “super intelligence” or “thought prints,” which makes it difficult to imagine a basis for his professional opinion. Hodges’ beliefs do not qualify as theories because they do not predict anything, nor is there an empirical test that would prove them wrong; e.g., there is no way to prove that his victims are not thinking the things he says they are thinking. According to Hodges, his victims may not even be aware that they are thinking what he says their “super intelligence” is thinking.

    Neither Hodges nor anyone else has published even one paper in scientific journals regarding “super intelligence” or “thought prints”.

    Hodges, like Mignini, needs to be discredited. Perhaps I am wrong, but it is difficult for me to believe that no action can be taken against him.

    • Patricia H. says:

      I am disgusted that someone else is again persecuting you with lies while trying to appear as someone with authority and special knowledge. What is this?

      I want this person discredited and I want legal action taken. None of us are safe if this goes unchecked and is allowed to happen to the proven innocent beyond a doubt, Amanda Knox, by the highest court in Italy. There must be consequences.

      “Thought prints” or “super intelligence” ? Really?

    • Kent Myers says:

      Hard to take anything serious by a supposed expert when they quote Wikipedia as an authoritative source. Submit that to your peers and see what their reaction is!

      Seriously, this is more like a work of fiction, bad fiction.

    • Som Nathan says:

      I think this Hodges guy is out there for a quick buck at a behest of a dead girl and two very normal fun loving ‘then’ college kids who are innocent of any wrongdoings. He won’t do such analysis on the real culprit Rudy Guede, because Rudy is unprofitable. Credibility of Hodges and his write up is Zero.

  6. JustAskin says:

    Is it possible there will be no final judicial report? Perhaps they feel the verdict acknowledges their innocence, but any report explaining that would, by necessity, have to criticize the court itself. Being unwilling to do that, they just decided to say nothing more about it?

    • Brian says:

      Is that even possible, or legal? Has it ever happened before that no motivation report was ever issued by the ISC on one of their final decisions?

  7. Elias says:

    Happy Birthday! First one as completely exonerated!

    The 4th of July may have felt extra sweet too!

    Congrats on all the great life progress, and best of fortune for
    continued success, you’ve earned it!

    w

  8. William Benjamin says:

    Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday Amanda, happy birthday to you, and many more.

    Your first birthday since 2007 in freedom, at least from a court system. Not knowing you at all, the way I do, I guess and wonder that at some point if you must wonder if the events of the last few years were really that bad. Please let me be one opinion from one man of a conscientious opinion that it really was that bad.

    Weeks after I would bother to look into this and quickly find yet another act of earthling stupidity, as I studied further I wound fall in love with what others called odd behavior because I am odd too. But this all happened after I had established you were innocent so this complicated how I would choose to voice this one man’s opinion on the earthling’s public stage, as I once again attempted to travel Frosts’ two diverging roads, and once again the one least taken, diverged yet again and again. Whether I failed, won or didn’t make a difference doesn’t matter. I can look myself in the mirror and only see the challenges that lay before me.

    I know that you are odd but I have been odd much longer then you. So I have had a little more time to deal with the earthlings right hook. Best advise is when nothing else seems to work there is always the age old standby called “no”. The measurement of all of the quantity of all of the personal freedom you can presently own is contained in your own personal ability to use this word and mean it. It is a powerful word of old and a litmus test of your current status on the spectrum of human en-devour. If more people could be taught how to use this word I think the world would be a much better place. The fact that so many people don’t seem to care much about it is the primary reason why I refer to them as earthlings.

    So my gift to you, not that I doubt that you already have it, is unlimited use for the rest of your life of this precious word called “no”. Have no doubts that if at some point in the future our paths should cross once again, the word no won’t be in my brain, only the persistence battle I wage with shyness, much like yourself I suspect.

    May God Bless Amanda Knox and give her the strength to tolerate the stupid earthlings.

  9. Joseph W Bishop says:

    Happy Birthday Amanda!

  10. Albert R. Calleros says:

    Amanda:

    ¡FELIZ CUMPLEAÑOS! ¡FELICIDADES Y MEJORES DESEOS!

    Albert
    Anaheim, CA, USA

  11. Stephane G says:

    July 9th here… A very happy and peaceful birthday to you !

  12. Daphne says:

    Dear Amanda:

    Happy birthday!

    Because of you, “innocence” has risen to a new level. For those who were wrongly convicted, abused, and endured as many years of hardship as you have, “innocent” should mean “saint!”

    Will you be able to let people know where your bridal registry is??

    Take care,
    Daphne

  13. William Benjamin says:

    I had a few thoughts about the suggestion posted below indicating a possible need for a Guilt Project to be formed. There already exist a fully operational Guilt Project and there is no shortage of active Guild Project members. This grassroots activist community has members on every continent, county and neighborhood. The historical elements of this societies formation can be found in the Biblical accounts of Genesis 34. The desire for punishment to be delivered to somebody else has been a call to action for many, many members for some time now.

    Guilt Project members actions are often manifested in a rationalization that the established legal mechanisms for punishment are either too slow, ineffective or too entertaining to be ignored. The Guilt Project is always there to assist in rectifying violations of the traditional categorization of people according to ability or status whether these be actual or by perception. The modal has been very effective but the project has faced several challenges in recent years. The Magna Carta, self governance, democratic control of justice systems and the utilization of enforceable peer based reviews are but a few of the challenges the Guilt Project has faced in recent years.

    If you to would like to become a member it’s easy. Just be ignorant of, ignore, marginalize or destroy any exculpatory information that is contrary to your cause. If you are lucky enough to live in a society that that pays people to do that for you it’s even easier, all that is required of you is your obedience and enthusiasm. The Guilt Project… serving human beings since Eve gave it up to Adam.

    • Tom Zupancic says:

      William Benjamin,

      Well said! There is little to add to your most elegant articulation of reality regarding criminal justice systems. I guess one can only ask, why are we so fixated on assigning guilt while being so disinterested in correcting the inevitable persecution of the innocent that this attitude inevitably creates?

  14. JustAskin says:

    My concern was whether missing the 90 day mark would undo any aspect of the exoneration or cause the duties of the write-up to be given to different judges. However, someone in this comment thread mentioned that since this was a final decision, there is no 90 day requirement. A farce of a slander trial is currently in progress against Amanda. Since they can take their time, maybe they’re just waiting until that trial is over.

    We see the injustice. Have strength, Amanda. Yours when you have it, ours when you want it.

    • Stephane G says:

      That was merely an hypothesis. Theoretically, the prescribed period is 90 days. Now the question is – beyond this obligation – what are the sanctions and consequences for a delayed report now that the case is closed ? And what supreme court is going to sentence the supreme court for being late ? I doubt a late report could be a ground to cancel the verdict anyway.

      • Brian says:

        I would sleep a whole lot better at night if someone who KNOWS FOR CERTAIN (one of Amanda’s lawyers, for ecample) were to post an assurance that the ISC’s missing their 90-day motivation report deadline does not invalidate their March 27 verdict!

    • Tom Zupancic says:

      JustAskin,

      Great question. I guess the short answer would be ‘who knows?’ But stepping back, it appears that this 90 day requirement thing is actually more like the Pirate Code in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean… it is more like a guideline than an rule.

  15. Sue Newman says:

    I am glad to see that such projects as The Innocence Project exists; as a retired State Probation Officer and one who has followed this case from 2007 to the present, I firmly believe that the support this project lends to those who have been wrongly imprisoned and/or prosecuted is vital to helping to rebuild those lives who have been affected by wrongful prosecutions. Its mission parallels those support groups who focus on other various issues and which exists to assist a person who is dealing with specific issues. Thankfully, the case against Amanda and Raffaele has concluded with a final acquittal. I admire your strength and fortitude throughout this entire ordeal although I am aware it was certainly not easy. You are fortunate to have had a strong support system and also a project like this to also provide support. There are so many people involved in the criminal justice system that are not as fortunate for they have no support system but hopefully The Innocence Project can reach them as well. I hope you are able to win any cases presently before the European Human Rights Court and you are compensated accordingly as a result of this case. I have read your book and recently purchased the one with an addendum based on the new final acquittal. You are an excellent writer and I look forward to seeing you prosper in a career as a writer and/or in journalism. Best of luck in the future and always keep looking forward…….

  16. Avrom says:

    Amanda,

    Your article on the Innocence Project is an excellent explanation of what they do and your own feelings about being unjustly convicted and but not yet fully exonerated at the time of their meeting.

    While seeing the miscarriage of justice that was imposed on you and Raffaele in Italy, Americans may not appreciate the full extent of the problem of wrongful convictions in our own country. An organization that tracks the number of exonerations in the US, the National Registry of Exonerations (a project of The University of Michigan Law School) reports that there have been 1621 exonerations in the US since 1989. Thus, there have been at least that many wrongful convictions, since not every wrongful conviction is legally acknowledged and reversed. Official misconduct has played a significant role in many of the reported wrongful convictions, 46% overall, and 60% in homicide cases. The work of the Innocence Project and other organizations working against wrongful conviction is important to help the victims of miscarriages of justice, to help focus attention on actual criminals, and to keep the American justice system functioning as demanded by American ideals and the Constitution.

  17. Rob H says:

    Whilst the acquittal verdicts in Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito’s cases remove most of the causes of action they would otherwise have at the European Court of Human Rights, the excessive length of their trial taken with the deprivation of their liberty, remains as a potential surviving violation of their human rights as does their right to be presumed innocent both under Italian and convention law throughout the trial process.

    I also wonder whether the ECtHR may be minded to rule in connection with these matters that depriving people without charge for up to a year is a violation of Article 5 of the convention, thus rendering Italian law on this point non compliant with convention law.

    Article 6 § 1

    “… everyone is entitled to a … hearing within a reasonable time …”

    Article 6 § 2

    “Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.”

    I hope that both Ms Knox and Mr Sollecito will give due consideration to their right to make applications to the ECHR on these grounds once the motivation report of the 5th section is published.

    These matters, of course, are in addition to and separate from Ms Knox’s application to the ECHR, currently before the court, in respect of her wrongful callunia conviction where her procedural rights were egregiously violated.

    • Maria says:

      The ECHR will not prosecute Italy for holding anyone on remand for 12 months. The Italian legal system was accepted by the EU when they joined and when they became a party to the ECHR; their legal system is similar to Spain and France in terms of process, burden of proof and remand times. Also, Amanda has no recourse to the Italian state for compensation because of her calunnia conviction which was finalised by the Supreme Court. If you are found to have lied at any point in the legal process, for any reason unless deemed exceptional by the Supreme Court (which Amanda’s calunnia was not), you deny yourself recourse for all compensation whether you spent 5 minutes or 50 years in prison. It is highly unlikely that the ECHR will reverse the calunnia due to the evidence and that all Italian procedures were being followed correctly. Unless Amanda can find an issue with the legal process then I would advise her to save her money on the lawyers. I know its hard to live with a conviction that you feel is unjust but sometimes in this life, you need to pick your battles.

      • Rob H says:

        I’m afraid you are wrong three times here. But with regard to the callunia conviction, Ms Knox had 1) No attorney 2) No independent interpreter and 3) Her statements made without benefit of counsel used against her.

        These are facts and they are not in dispute. Each one represents a gross violation of the European Convention of Human Rights such that the court, according to its own jurisprudence, must find in her favour.

        Article 46 of the convention requires that Ms Knox benefits from appropriate restitution, which in her case demands that the Italian judiciary annul her conviction.

      • Stephane G says:

        This is precisely because Amanda’s conviction for calomnia was finalized by the SC that Amanda could appeal to the ECHR, which is something you cannot do before all the possibilities to appeal, following the “national” procedure, are exhausted. And this will be a decision from the ECHR, following its own standards and analysis, and not from the italian SC.

  18. Samson says:

    Amanda, your case has been a frightening ordeal, that I remembered from the news reports at the beginning, but really forgot about till your release, and particularly the Hellman annulment. It may be cold comfort, but at least people have learned a huge amount. I discussed the Mark Lundy New Zealand case online then in more detail with Jim Lovering and Chris Halkides, and it seems they encouraged Bruce Fisher to take an interest too with the IA website.
    There are more cases in New Zealand, which could be thought of as an average American state in population.
    The pattern is eerily similar, time after time, innocence is easily proved by reason, but the people fall for the terrible hoax.

    Here is a link to the Injustice Anywhere Podcasts that are fantastic listening. The Deborah Milke one for example is heartrending, and the Nyki Kish.

    http://www.spreaker.com/user/injusticeanywhere

    Click on “episodes” button for the list. I hope people listen to the Mark Lundy one, but they are all intriguing and frightening, and the format and production is outstanding, with devoted and necessarily patient people that discuss.

  19. JustAskin says:

    I thought the judicial report explaining the final decision was due within 90 days. That should have been June 27, if my math is correct. Has anything happened?

    • Tom Zupancic says:

      JustAskin,

      I agree, doing the math more than 90 days have passed. But, are you suggesting that a national judicial institution that is based on the concept of the rule of law should actually be held accountable to such a concept (following it’s own rules)? … That is like asking that fundamental ideals like the presumption of innocence and right to a fair trial should actually be taken seriously! Let’s be real here.

  20. Len D. says:

    In case you missed it, check out The Moth Radio Hour episode “Hand Transplant, DNA, and a Backwards Heart” for a story on the early days of DNA as evidence.

    http://themoth.org

  21. Paul Carr says:

    AK, it never occurred to me that Greg helps round up the culprits. That’s a subtle detail you had the perception to point out.

  22. Cinnamon says:

    Hi Amanda,

    I have questions about the Innocence Project. I attended a lecture at my local Law School by the IP a few years ago and was shocked at the stories the exonerees had to tell. It inspired me to want to do something to help.

    Thing is, the reason I’m interested is because I was falsely accused of a violent crime I didn’t commit. As with you, I have no history of violence and there wasn’t any physical evidence linking me to the case. However, because there wasn’t any evidence, I wasn’t even charged – and so I never went through what any of the IP exonerees did with trials, wrongful imprisonment, etc. But the false accusation still greatly affected me: my reputation was trashed to such an extent that I had to move from the neighbourhood and delete my Facebook profile, the abuse from vigilantes being so frequent (it affected me financially too, because moving away was expensive). Plus there was the fact that such an accusation was intrinsically hurtful: all my life, I’ve never gone out of my way to cause harm, so it was incredibly upsetting to be accused of such a thing.

    My question is, would I still have a place at the IP despite not having been wrongfully convicted? And would they still welcome me as a volunteer even though I don’t have any legal or scientific skills?

    Cinnamon.

    P.S. I’ve been following your case with interest for a while, have read all of Steve Moore and Lenroot Mays’ articles about you and I am currently reading your book.

    • Matthew McKenna says:

      Whoever you are, you have a recourse. It is a Federal Civil Rights Suit.
      For each “Issue”, you can prove, a monetary award is Justified. For Instance, 6th Amendment – Right to Confrontation …… For anyone, who made an “Accusation”
      against you. ie Police Report/Statement/Point you out in photo….
      Each “Issue” will MULTIPLY Damages !
      Go over EACH document you have by date, Highlight it, Number it.

  23. Vicki says:

    Wonderful post, Amanda. I was wondering, in your meetings with the IP, are people more likely to be wrongfully convicted due to human error, or malice?

    • Elias says:

      What an excellent question.

      e

    • Tom Mininger says:

      Here’s a breakdown of causes for the first 325 DNA exonerations:
      http://www.innocenceproject.org/causes-wrongful-conviction

      They don’t include a percentage for government misconduct but they give examples of it.

      Eyewitness misidentification is numero uno. I wonder what percentage of these are caused by the police or prosecutor either intentionally or subconsciously being suggestive to the witness.

      False confessions are the easiest to remedy by mandatory recording of all interviews. If the prosecution can’t produce ALL the recordings leading up to a confession, then there is no confession.

    • Tom Mininger says:

      In one of Dr. Saul Kassin’s experiments, volunteers were asked to perform a challenging task on a computer but warned them not to touch the “Alt” key or risk damaging a computer. Volunteers were told that the computer had been damaged and were asked whether they hit the banned key. In reality, the volunteer did nothing wrong. Most volunteers denied it, but as the initial task they were given was made difficult, they became less sure because they were distracted. When researchers had confederates lie about having seen the volunteers hit the Alt key, the number of people who confessed went up to 100 percent. Every stage of increased pressure led ever larger numbers of volunteers to believe they were really guilty.

      Imagine being alone in an interrogation room with cops accusing you of the most horrible things imaginable and legally lying that they have the evidence to prove it. Repeat offenders who’ve been through the system are not as vulnerable to this disorientation.

  24. Tom Zupancic says:

    A number of people have commented about guilty people escaping punishment. Stepping back, it would appear that the purpose of a criminal justice system is to punish the guilty and protect the innocent. What is the greater injustice? to fail to punish a guilty person? or to punish an innocent person? At least in principal in the American system punishing an innocent person is the greater injustice.

  25. Tom Mininger says:

    I think The Innocence Project is a misnomer. At least at the national level.

    The DNA tests they have sponsered over the past two decades have sometimes exonerated, sometimes confirmed guilt, and sometimes identified the real perpetrator.

    All three of these are invaluable. They are The Justice Project.

  26. Stephane G says:

    Thanks for this interesting article Amanda. In fact, only after I read it did I realize that the Innocence Network was not only American, as I always thought it was. I discovered since that there were other projects worldwide, and even an « Innocence Project France » that started in the University of Lyon at the very beginning of 2013. Greg Hampikian himself was there when the project was officially launched before 200 students. Up to that day, there are only about 30 people working for it and half of them are students (so they decided to work only on criminal cases in which the defendant had exhausted all the possibilities of appeal – like the ECHR). They also fight to obtain a longer preservation of the evidences.

    I also found that they had play some part in an important improvement in our legal system when our Minister of Justice (Attorney General) proposed and obtained a vote from the National Assembly to facilitate the procedure for trial revisions, about a year ago. You have to realize that whereas about 5 final convictions are cancelled every year in Germany, we only had 9 in… 70 years ! And to answer Cyberquill, I don’t think there is such thing as a “Guilt project” here, but a member of the Assembly tried to introduce an amendment that could also allow the reversal of a definitive acquittal. It was rejected.

    I also remember there were hot debates on forums and social networks then. Actually – and this also brings some light on the hysterical frenzy around cases like your own – I realized that a disturbing proportion of the population seemed to consider wrongful convictions as a necessary inconvenience for a safer society and that innocents in prison were after all nothing but collateral damages in a war against crime. Quite a few seemed to sincerely worry much more about the possibility of a potential criminal running free than about few innocents under locks and keys for decades (apparently not realizing that an innocent in prison very often means a true criminal outside). Terrifying indeed…

  27. Len D. says:

    Good work Amanda.

    • Brian says:

      Where is the ISC motivation report?

      It has now been more than 90 days since the final exoneration was handed down, and we are all anxious to see the Court’s motivation document (which was due out a day or two ago by my calculation.) I am sure Amanda, her parents, and Raffaele are all on pins and needles to get this final step behind them.

      Hopefully it will contain material that will help Amanda, her parents, and Raffaele overcome the slander charges that are still being pursued by the Italian court system.

      To the prosecutors who are still trying desparately to get their pound of flesh by pursuing these slander charges, I hope they will finally give it up and just let those charges drop.

      • Stephane G says:

        Hi Brian. I may be wrong but since this was a final ruling and it cannot be appealed, I understood there was no 90 days deadline this time. In some cases, it took longer for the SC to publish its motivation report. We may have to be patient…

      • Len D. says:

        I assume this was supposed to be a question for Amanda (good luck with that) or for the entire forum.

        For me, I don’t know what the cause is for the delay in the release of the ISC report. Maybe they are having trouble agreeing how they are going to walk back that “multiple attacker” fantasy. Maybe they plan to add some dramatic symbolism for us and release it on July 4th…..how did Doug Preston put it…. “Italians are very sensitive to American public opinion. Italians love America.”

  28. Rob H says:

    A nicely crafted article – well done.

    Here’s something for people to get their teeth into injustice wise – the horrible scandal of the pseudo scientific analysis of crime scene hair samples. There could be more people wrongly convicted and in prison today because of this than have been exonerated during the entire history of the Innocence Project.

    http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jun/23/fbi-evidence-single-hair-kirk-odom

    • Tom Mininger says:

      That is horrifying. Crime labs work for the police and prosecution. What does human nature say is going to happen?

      If the labs aren’t independent, they won’t be unbiased.

  29. And oh… all the guilty people and organizations that have gotten away with awful crimes and injustices. It makes me sad.

  30. Tom Zupancic says:

    Amanda, it is great to see that your story, in your own words, is now getting published in mainstream media outlets. Obviously, you ‘meet the height requirement’. More importantly, coming from your personal experience as an innocent victim of a justice system gone awry you are uniquely qualified to recognize and value of the essential work being done by the Innocence Project and other advocates for justice. Well done. Hopefully, going forward, the serious limitations and systemic problems of legal systems around the world that routinely lead to the unjust treatment of innocent people can be recognized and addressed. ‘Keep fighting’ sounds like the precisely the right approach.

  31. Cyberquill says:

    Since justice can be miscarried in either direction, I gather there must also exist a Guilt Project that works to overturn wrongful acquittals. Maybe not in the U.S., given the Double Jeopardy Clause, but in other countries.

    • Rob H says:

      Prosecutions are matters for the state and not for private groups organised against individuals as we have seen in Ms Knox’s case. Those being prosecuted, who are able to muster the means to mount a credible defence in the first place, find themselves facing the practically limitless resources of the state’s apparatus. The state needs no help.

      As for exonerations, the bar to success is even higher. In the United States, effectively the burden of proof is reversed on appeal. The problem is not that guilty people are being acquitted, but that large numbers of people wrongly convicted will never even have the chance to mount an appeal, which in any case is time consuming and expensive.

      This is an “equality of arms” issue. Be assured that the imbalance strongly favours the prosecution. And it’s not just in the United States. In Italy, in Ms Knox’s case, the prosecutor spent more than $120,000 on an evidence-less cartoon fantasy reconstruction of the crime and managed to persuade a judge to allow him to screen it in court!

    • Mark says:

      Modern justice systems are built (in theory) around the idea that it is better to let a guilty person go free than to convict an innocent person. So in this sense there is no such thing as a “wrongful acquittal.” I suppose a true wrongful acquittal would be a guilty person committing a crime to get acquitted, such as witness intimidation/evidence tampering. Since those are actual crimes the “guilt project” in that case would be the police/prosecutor.

    • Kent Myers says:

      You can start one yourself. Just need to have something new to offer the courts to suggest that a different judgement was possible if only they knew this information.

      oh, wait. That organization already exists. It is called the District Attourney Office.

      Amazingly, they opperate under the same burden that the Innocent Project does.

    • Vicki says:

      I disagree with this idea. It is upsetting when the guilty get away with their crimes, but if the evidence I not there, then who can say they are guilty? This opens the door for more suffering and persecution, and we have enough of that in our world.

      • Elias says:

        Especially the guilty who end up committing worse crimes. Ala the murder of a young woman recently on the San Francisco waterfront. Had the “Justice System” done their job, he never would have been on the streets to steal a gun and then use it.

    • William Benjamin says:

      Wouldn’t the efficient prosecutor just put a few pieces of unremarkable evidence in a drawer, then if things didn’t go their way with the first court the option is left open to a retrial with the “new” evidence in the prospect that the next court might be more amenable.

      This type of prosecution would be more efficient and probably more successful since it will quickly deplete the resources of the defendant to defend themselves against something much more powerful then themselves and within the socialist’s dilemma redefine innocents as the personal right to all the inalienable rights that one could personally afford

  32. ScienceQuestion says:

    Hi, Amanda.

    I’m a big a fan of the Innocence Project. Since becoming aware of your case in particular, I’ve felt compeled to volunteer with IP. But as a doctoral level scientist, I do not do anything in the field of DNA. Can IP use my help in other areas of science, and how do I volunteer? Thanks.

    • Amanda says:

      Hi ScienceQuestion,

      Innocence Projects throughout the country are ALWAYS in need of further great minds and dedicated hearts. Due to limited time, resources, and funding, there are always cases of potential innocence that Innocence Projects simply can’t manage to look into. Depending on your field of expertise, there might be a case where your qualifications might directly serve. Otherwise, an analytical mind is always a great resource when looking into case histories and determining where the investigative or prosecutorial process may have gone awry.

      Depending on where you are, you might reach out to your local Innocence Project, send them a message explaining your interest and qualifications, and then ask if you could be of any help in any way.

      Thanks for reaching out,
      a

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