In Pre-production Discussion
In 1983, Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, two young Bronx Legal Aid lawyers, decided to take over the appeal of the accused prisoner, Marion Coakley. They would soon recognize the importance of accurate scientific testing in properly assessing evidence. Working with MIT’s Dr. Eric Lander—who later went on to decipher the human genome—Barry and Peter pioneered the use of DNA testing to give freedom back to over 350 (and counting) wrongfully convicted men and women, including 21 who served time on death row. Today, The Innocence Project continues to press for the reform of a troubled, and often arbitrary, criminal justice system. 2017 is their 25th anniversary year.
We have been working for the past year with Maddy DeLone, Executive Director of the Innocence Project and her team, not only help celebrate their past accomplishments, but to provide the framework for their future endeavors.
We propose a benefit concert to honor and support their continual efforts for reform. We would like to invite CNN’s Van Jones to be the host/MC of the Concert for the Innocents. We have worked with Van Jones since Edens Lost & Found. Van Jones wrote the foreword to the project’s companion book, and became an Ashoka Fellow the same year we did. We would like to invite Aretha Franklin and other musicians to perform and would like to hold the concert in a church with an accompanying choir—either in LA, Oakland, or NYC at some point in the next ten to twelve months.
Best-selling author John Grisham is on the Innocence Project’s Board and has agreed to help write the film, and he may also write, or co-write the project’s companion book.
- Television Broadcast
- Concert for the Innocents: a full-length special broadcast
- A network or cable documentary series to follow
- An interactive online hub devoted to criminal justice reform
- A video resource library
- Grassroots and youth uploads
- Community outreach
- Educational online games
- Professional development MOOCs for universities and law schools
- Companion book(s)
- Academic conferences
- Ongoing newsletters devoted to criminal justice reforms
- National and local televised town hall meetings
Additional online documentary segments will focus on the miscarriage of justice—mistaken eyewitness identification, false confessions through police coercion, jailhouse snitches and informants, crime lab misconduct, junk science and sloppy laboratory procedure, tampered evidence, corrupt prosecutors and police, incompetent defense lawyers, and ill-prepared public defenders. The film will explore the racial implications in regards to the way sentences are determined, especially the administrations of the death penalty. It will look at life after the exoneration, the release of the innocent, and question whether there is adequate compensation to victims of wrongful imprisonment.