The Best of the 2017 Innocence Project Gala

By Innocence Staff

Dion Harrell, Anthony Wright, and Darryl Howard attended their first gala. Photo by MatteDesign.

The 25th anniversary Innocence Project gala on May 16 in New York City was a night to remember. Nearly 1,000 people attended the event where Innocence Project Co-Founders and Co-Directors Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld were honored and surprised with congratulatory videos from a range of friends, experts and celebrities who support the organization.

“What is it in you that sees something unfair happening to someone else and makes you want to change it,” Academy Award-winning actress Meryl Streep asked in her opening for the evening’s program. “It’s empathy!”

Related: Meet 350 DNA exonerees 

Streep was followed by recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and folk music icon Joan Baez and Grammy Award-winning bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding, who both performed musical numbers. And to end the special night, 40 people from around the country who were wrongly convicted took to the stage. One of the most profound moments came during Philadelphia exoneree Anthony Wright’s speech, in which he dedicated the evening to Ledell Lee who was executed by Arkansas without the chance of DNA testing to prove his innocence.

Take a look at social media highlights from the night below.


  1. Nancy Fifer

    My heart rejoices for every person exonerated and released! I am hopeful that the remainder of their lives are fulfilling and joyful!! I support this wonderful organization when I can and will do so in the future. Many more good years to you!!!

  2. Michael Yeong

    I am so proud to have been a donor to the Innocence Project.
    I continue to tell my students about the wonderful work you all are doing to FREE the innocent.
    Mr. Scheck will not remember me but many years ago he and I had coffee together in Brooklyn Heights while I was a student at St. Francis College on Remsen Street in Brooklyn.
    I will never forget the conversation we had about freeing people who were innocent of the crimes they were accused of committing.

    Congratulations to the Innocence Project from a continuing donor.

  3. LeeAnn Stone

    Great to see the evening was a huge success.
    Congratulations to all who have been exonerated since the beginning of this outstanding collaboration of men and women.
    Here’s to another highly successful 25 years!
    God bless you all!!!

  4. Allen Remillard

    I used to argue to anyone who would listen that there are and were many innocent people in prison who are and were, in fact, totally innocent of the crimes charged. That was in the early 1990s. I knew of 2 in my own state of Connecticut, Peter Reilly and Richard LaPointe. Mechanically speaking, the Reilly case was much more difficult because he had to prove his innocence with little to no forensics to work with. My wife was certainly a great lady, but she refused to acknowledge that there was even one person who had been wrongly convicted. I take no pleasure in turning out to be right. Perhaps it is one percent of the prison population that was wrongly convicted. That one percent translates to maybe 100,000 or more, which is a huge number that should make ever lawyer and judge sick to their stomach.

    To the staff at The Innocence Project, you are doing great work day in and day out. I’m only sorry that there’s no way it could ever be enough. I do keep tabs periodically and every time I look, the numbers are larger than at my last look. I have little money really. I say that only because I’d love to do something to help. The more who help, the better the chances that innocent people get out of prison. Keep up the great work!!

  5. Rita Gaydos

    I would like some information on how i can help my son who was wrongly convicted. If you could please help me i would greatly appreciate. I dont know where else to turn, Thank You. My e mail is rita[email protected].

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