As Thomas Haynesworth waited in prison to be released, the Innocence Project asked our online community to send a message of support. More accustomed to sending letters than receiving them, he suddenly had 888 messages to read. In March, Haynesworth was freed; in December, he was exonerated.
Along the way, the Innocence Project spread the news of his innocence all over the country, rallying the public at every step. The Washington Post urged Virginia courts to act, writing: “Justice has not been done.” The New York Times highlighted Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli’s advocacy for Haynesworth. Television affiliates from across the state attended the exoneration and thousands of people commented through Innocence Project social media networks.
|“Justice has not been done.”|
|– The Washington Post|
Our message of criminal justice reform reached millions last year. In 2011, staff members and exonerees spoke to judges, scientists, attorneys and students at 70 engagements in 15 states. We issued action alerts to stop the execution of Troy Davis, called for the establishment of a national criminal justice commission, demanded justice for the Englewood Four, secured DNA testing for Hank Skinner and more. In all, Innocence Project activists sent more than 66,000 e-mails to elected officials, advocating for justice for the wrongfully convicted.
Simply by sharing the stories of wrongful conviction, our supporters ignite meaningful change in the criminal justice system. Thanks to public outcry about individual cases and systemic shortcomings, the Innocence Project has become a powerful voice for justice.
Dear Mr. Haynesworth,
I want you to know that you have many, many people who believe in you — believe in your innocence, and are calling for your immediate release. Please stay strong and keep fighting for your freedom. In the tough moments, hold on to your inner strength and your faith and know that you have support all around you.
I was very much moved by your story. As a first year law student, I am inspired by your resilience and cause, and I wish you all the best. People like you are the reason I decided to become an attorney, and I pray for your speedy release. Good luck, and keep it strong!