In one of our first articles I talked about the book 'The Innocent Man' by John Grisham and how it opened my eyes to things I'd never seen before. In a more recent article, we profiled the extraordinary wrongful conviction, release, then exoneration of Brian Banks. When we heard 'Virginia- The Innocence Project' was hosting a fundraiser with John Grisham and Brian Banks there to lecture, we knew we couldn't miss it.
If ever looking for a good cause to donate to, please consider The Innocence Project. These attorneys, paralegals and any support they may receive are strictly on a volunteer basis. They work countless hours to free these victims of wrongful incarceration just because its the right thing to do. In our eyes, they are true heroes.
One of my favorite parts of learning about these cases and looking through hundreds of pictures is coming across a picture of the exoneree taking their first step to freedom with their attorneys. The expression on the face of the attorney is always just as emotional and heart warming as the defendants.
Donations are used for DNA testing, expert witnesses, anything needed to fight for the freedom of their wrongfully convicted clients.
Not surprisingly, John Grisham is a wonderful speaker and said quite a few very interesting things in a very short amount of time. The first thing that struck me was when he began speaking about his book 'The Innocent Man', and said researching and writing the book opened his eyes to the world of wrongful incarceration. The exact same thing I have always said about reading the book. Its very easy to know nothing about the high rate of wrongful convictions because most people are never faced with this and never have reason to look. Nobody knows about it yet, it could happen to anyone at anytime.
A former criminal attorney in Mississippi, Grisham had seen his fair share of court rooms and convictions and still had no idea about all the wrongful convictions taking place. Not until he began working on the book did he realize that there was a whole other side to our legal system, a much darker side than most can comprehend.
Quotes from the evening- John Grisham
The system is not designed to get people out of prison
Studies show that there are between 2% to 10% innocent behind bars,
Its easy to send the innocent to prison but next to impossible to get them out
Brian's story is definitely one of a kind, but more than that you can see the goodness in him, in pictures and reading what he's written or others have written about him. Meeting Brian in person, the effect is magnified by 1000, he has a definite warm light about him and we both feel very honored to have met him. He has taken his tragedy and turned it into something very positive; he not only speaks for the wrongfully convicted but is also a motivational speaker.
We also heard from Deirde Enright of the Virginia Innocence Project and she briefly went through cases of Edgar Coker, Justin Wolfe and Michael Hash and we will cover these cases in the very near future.
Quotes from the evening- Brian Banks
I have struggled, feared and persevered!
Instead of searching for the reason, I started searching for meaning.
Loss of freedom, guilty or innocent, can be used as opportunity.
I left behind my mother, football, the team and my dream!
I was holding all this anger then realized that these people didn't even know, or if they did, they didn't care.