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TV One Premieres Evidence of Innocence and Hosts Panel Discussion Highlighting Racial Disparities in Criminal Justice System

By Innocence Staff

(L-R): Rushion McDonald, Linda Lipsen, Chantá Parker, Benjamin Crump, Tia Smith and Mike Fletcher attend the screening of TV One’s Evidence of Innocence, their new limited crime and justice series at the NCTA Theater in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, May 31, 2018. Photo by Cheriss May.

Last night, the new docu-series Evidence of Innocence debuted on TV One. The four-part series follows the stories of four wrongfully convicted African-Americans. Benjamin Crump, a civil rights attorney who famously represented the families of Michael Brown and Tamir Rice, is the show’s host.

Benjamin Crump attends the Evidence of Innocence screening and panel. Photo by Cheriss May.

This past Thursday, TV One hosted a screening of the series’ second episode, followed by a panel discussion. Hosted by journalist Roland Martin, the event raised awareness about wrongful convictions, racial bias within the criminal justice system and the need to hold system actors accountable.

The panel discussion included commentary from attorney Benjamin Crump, the Innocence Project’s Special Counsel for New Initiatives Chantá Parker, Senior Director of Programming and Production at TV One Tia A. Smith, Executive Producer of Evidence of Innocence Rushion McDonald, Senior Writer Michael Fletcher and CEO of the American Association for Justice Linda Lipsen.

(L-R): Panelists Roland Martin, Chantá Parker, Benjamin Crump, Linda Lipsen, Rushion McDonald, Tia Smith and Mike Fletcher. Photo by Cheriss May.

Chantá Parker discussed the role that race plays in our criminal justice system and why she’s excited for the series to air: “What we see in this series and at the Innocence Project is that black people are presumed guilty from an arrest all the way to a conviction. At every stage of the process, black people are having a harder time.”

“What we try to do at the Innocence Project is get as many people out as possible. Of the over 350 people exonerated by DNA evidence–60 percent are black and brown folks. I’m excited because TV One is showing this [Evidence of Innocence] to our communities so our community can see what’s going on…When prosecutors are up for elections, we can come out and demand they do right by our community,” said Chantá Parker.

Chantá Parker speaks on the Evidence of Innocence panel. Photo by Cheriss May.

“Being a person who goes into courtrooms all across America….I believe we’ve lost our way as a country,” Crump explained. “Back in 1887, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously said, ‘I would rather a thousand guilty men go free than one innocent man go to prison.’ Out of the 100,000 people in prison that are likely completely innocent, the highest percentage of them are black men. That is the problem no one wants to talk about.”

The series will air on TV One every Monday evening in June at 10PM EST. Tune in.

4 Comments

  1. Cher Matthews

    OMG My black son was sentenced to 12 years in prison and his white codefendant got 2 months probation. Then I get a message from my son and he tells me the classification department has 17 years on his books and they are NOT going to change it. I have been living a nightmare since April 2017 and it continues because no one wants to help you unless you can line their pockets. This world is a very sad place to live in. My Black son is just as important as their white son.

  2. MARILYN LAMBERT

    THIS IS ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL….I ONLY WISH SOMEONE WOULD LOOK INTO MY NEPHEW CASE….HE’S BEEN INCARCERATED 15 YRS. OF A 30 YR. SENTENCE FOR 1ST DEGREE ROBBERY…PEOPLE HAVE KILLED AND GOT LESS OF A SENTENCE!

  3. Catherine Jackson

    My brother has been incarcerated for more than 32 years for a crime he did not commit. No DNA was used back when he was arrested and he did not get an attorney believing that because he is innocent he would not be found guilty. Please help us.

  4. Christina Gonzalez

    My cousin Robert Figueroa was sentenced to life in prison at the age of 19 in 1990 for a crime he did not commit or have any part of. He is an innocent man with no chance to ever prove his innocence. This is a response I recently received from Innocence Rights of Orange County – I’m sorry but I’m going to have to pass on this case. It’s a very sad case involving a lot of young victims and I don’t think I would get any sympathy by the court by pursuing an appeal. If your cousin was convicted when he was a minor there is a possibility for early parole for individuals who are convicted under the age of 18. He should look into that file the appropriate petition.
    Annee

    So he’s being advised to admit to a crime he didn’t commit in order to file for a petition more appropriate. He should not be left to die in prison because he was falsely accused of a crime no one can bare to take on. #thesystemisbroken

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