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(Feb 06, 2007)
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After Innocence tells the dramatic and compelling story of the exonerated - innocent men wrongfully imprisoned for decades and then released after DNA evidence proved their innocence. Focusing on the gripping stories of seven men, including a police officer, an army sergeant and a young father that were sent to prison for decades in some cases death row for crimes they did not commit, After Innocence explores the emotional journeys these men face when thrust back into society with little or no support from the system that put them behind bars. While the public views exonerations as success stories - wrongs that have been righted - After Innocence shows that the human toll of wrongful imprisonment can last far longer than the sentences served, raising basic questions about human rights and societys moral obligation to the exonerated by placing a spotlight on the flaws in our criminal justice system that lead to wrongful conviction of the innocent.
For an innocent man exonerated by newly found DNA evidence, release from prison is only the beginning. Shattered lives aren't so quickly pieced back together with a wave of a judge's gavel. After Innocence, a moving and unforgettable documentary, follows the lives of several "exonerees" freed after years--sometimes decades--of wrongful imprisonment for rape or sexual assault. Some of the men have used the opportunity to truly start over--get degrees, forge a new career, rebuild family ties. Others remain broken and bewildered by a judicial system that let them down. And, as one of the exonerees notes, there's nothing in place to assist people wrongly convicted, while there are a host of benefits available to convicts who are out on parole. There are many touching moments in the film, especially showing how the exonerees have banded together in a loose support group; while nothing will ever be the same for any of these men, their recognition for what each other has been though is sometimes enough for them to feel that they can face another day. --A.T. Hurley
- Interviews with the filmmakers
- Deleted scenes and bonus footage
- Pearl Jam performance with two exonerees
- Updates on the lives on the film's exonerees
- Footage from the Sundance premiere, MTV, Larry King Live, and the theatrical premiere
- Media/press footage
- Website and contact information
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# their lives before their convictions,
# what circumstances led to their convictions,
# what their lives were like in jail,
# their struggle to be freed by DNA evidence,
# what their lives were like after exoneration.
Many of the exonerated were struggling to receive compensation for their unjust treatment, and most were struggling to pick up the pieces of their lives after being devastated by the inhumanity of America's legal system. The callousness of the system appeared frequently, while apologies for errors were few and far between. It was difficult to sit through the movie without feeling anger toward the cruelty and injustice America's legal system brought into the lives of these men. It was apparent from the reactions of others in the audience I was not alone in my feelings.
The movie was edited so that it also included the struggles of Barry Scheck, Peter Neufeld and others in the Innocence Project as they worked to free the wrongly convicted. At one point in the movie a volunteer showed bundle after bundle of letters (from prisoners), in filing cabinets that staff had not even had the resources to open yet. It was an appalling site, considering the perilous existence of some DNA evidence in "official" storage.
After the movie, the writer/director Jessica Sanders conducted a Q & A with the audience. Along with her, were about half a dozen of the wrongly convicted men, some of whom were in the movie. An attorney who had assisted in the project was also on stage. In response to an audience question, the attorney stated that it was his guess that between 1% and 5% of the current prison population was wrongly convicted. He went on to say, "That doesn't sound like much, but given that our present prison population is 2,000,000, that works out to between 20,000 and 100,000 human beings." Although it was never mentioned in the Q & A, or the movie, 93% of those incarcerated are male.
On the way out of the theater, we passed by tables that sold baseball caps, t-shirts, books, and CD's. The book that was on sale was entitled "Surviving Justice," and is also available through Amazon.com.
I paused momentarily at one of the tables, while my friend asked questions. In several subsequent discussions with audience members, and people at tables, I mentioned that I was a member of the National Coalition of Free Men Los Angeles, and said, "We encounter a lot of men who are 'falsely accused.' You know, the preliminary step leading to wrongful convictions."
In the lobby, my friend asked one of the attorneys in the group what culpability the government had for those wrongly convicted. He was told, "Unless it can be shown that the government was malicious, there is none." Perhaps the government hasn't learned yet that the American public is very angry about all the "witch hunting" of innocent men going on, but there is a growing effort underway to "educate" them of that fact.
I highly recommend the movie After Innocence for one and all. The stories of wrongly convicted men, who have regained their freedom, is a heroic effort worth knowing. The stories of wrongly convicted men, struggling to regain the shattered pieces of their lives, is an American tragedy worthy of every citizen's help and support to make right.
Most recent customer reviews
A standing ovation goes out to the staffers of The American Innocence Project and to those who were open enough to share their lives with the...Read more