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A Last Chance for Justice — The Innocence Project

We like to believe that only the guilty are punished and the innocent go free. Pennsylvania’s Innocence Project, part of the nationwide Innocence Project, knows otherwise.

Brian Banks, just released by the Atlanta Falcons as a free agent, had been a high school football star on his way to play for USC when he was sidetracked by a false rape accusation. He spent five years in prison for a crime he never committed. His conviction was overturned in 2012 when his accuser confided to him that she had fabricated the rape accusation but refused to publicly recant it because she and her family wanted to keep the millions they had obtained from suing the school district. Banks’ investigator taped her statement and, with the help of the Innocence Project, had Banks’ conviction overturned.

In another case, a Pennsylvania man spent 30 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. He was finally released in 2010 when the Innocence Project investigated and found that evidence in his favor — eyewitnesses who stated it was not him they saw shoot another man — had been deliberately suppressed by law enforcement.

Other prisoners are awaiting investigation and retrial of their cases based on similar misconduct by law enforcement and prosecution officials, including.

  • Improper testing or no testing of DNA evidence
  • Payment to eyewitnesses for perjured testimony
  • A “sweetheart deal” from a prosecutor to an eyewitness in exchange for perjured testimony
  • Improper or inadequate police investigation that failed to turn up crucial evidence or eyewitnesses
  • Honest but dubious eyewitness identification years after the crime
  • Loss or destruction of physical evidence
  • Denial by the prosecutor of improved DNA testing techniques that would help identify the real perpetrator

The Innocence Project is not working to free criminals from prison but rather to free citizens proved to be unjustly convicted. The Innocence Project also works collaboratively with the courts and law enforcement agencies to correct underlying flaws that lead to wrongful convictions.

The best thing, however, is to avoid wrongful conviction in the first place. If you or someone you care about is facing criminal charges in Reading or Berks County, you want representation by a skillful, experienced criminal defender whose career is dedicated to combating miscarriages of justice.

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