Mississippi Innocence Project wins $10,000 Grant to Educate on Wrongful ConvictionsBy Sandra Knispel | Published 09 Aug 2011 10:22am |
A $10,000 dollar grant is helping The Mississippi Innocence Project at the University of Mississippi fight wrongful convictions throughout the state. MPB’s Sandra Knispel has more from Oxford.
Justice should be blind and fair – but it ain’t necessarily so. Sometimes innocent people languish for decades behind bars with little recourse to justice.
“They are predominantly poor. They are predominantly African American, although I would quickly add that causes of wrongful convictions don’t discern between a defendant’s race or gender," said Tucker Carrington, the director of the Mississippi Innocence Project. "I mean they are equal opportunity bashers.”
The Innocence Project shares the grant with the University of Mississippi’s law school and its media and documentary projects center.
“We as Mississippians ought to be concerned. With the exception of Louisiana we lock up a higher percentage of our citizens than any other state in the country," Carrington added.
That combined with the fact that Mississippi has few public defenders, he said, puts an even greater number of defendants at risk. Carrington is the co-producer of an award-winning documentary titled “Mississippi Innocence.” Directed by Joe York of the university’s media and documentary projects center, the film chronicles the wrongful convictions of two Noxube County men, who spent combined more than 30 years in prison for crimes they did not commit. Levon Brooks, is one of the two:
“I had a daughter that was born, just born at the time that I got sentenced. And I got a chance then to look at my daughter and then tell my girl-friend: ‘Just go on with your life.’ It tore me apart.”
The Fledgling Fund’s grant will enhance the 60-minute documentary with curricular materials to be used in high schools, colleges and law schools across the country, trying to raise awareness that justice needs to be just that: fair and blind.
Sandra Knispel, MPB News, Oxford
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