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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law Presents a Film on a Wrongfully Convicted Man and Bill to Prevent the Problem

A film about wrongful convictions followed by a discussion with an Arizona man wrongfully imprisoned for eight years will be held on Sept. 27 at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University.

In addition, a bill drafted by ASU law students to compensate wrongfully convicted Arizonans will be discussed. The bill soon will be introduced into the Arizona Legislature.

The film, After Innocence , tells the story of seven men imprisoned for decades and their efforts to rebuild their lives after DNA evidence proved their innocence.“The men are thrust back into society with little or no support from the system that put them behind bars,” according to the film’s Web site. “While the public views exonerations as success stories – wrongs that have been righted – After Innocence shows that the human toll of wrongful imprisonment can last far longer than the sentences served.” 

The film features Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, founders of the Innocence Project, which has helped to exonerate the more than 200 people freed through the use of DNA testing in the last decade. It also highlights the work of human-rights activist Dr. Lola Vollen, co-founder of the Life After Exoneration Program.

Following the film, Ray Girdler, a Prescott man who spent eight years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of arson and murder in the deaths of his wife and daughter, will discuss his experience. Girdler will be joined by his attorney, Larry Hammond, who eventually proved the fire was accidental, securing Girdler’s release.

Hammond, of Osborn Maledon, and others founded The Arizona Justice Project, which was established in 1998, making it the fifth organization in the United States set up to help inmates overturn wrongful convictions. Today, there are more than 40 similar organizations throughout the country.

[Mark Godsey]

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