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Wrongful conviction & exoneration are television's newest themes

Many of our recent posts have focused on the problems of wrongful conviction, flawed forensic science, prosecutorial misconduct and other factors that cause innocent individuals to be locked up for crimes they didn’t commit. Since it was founded in 1992, the Innocence Project has been working tirelessly to exonerate defendants who have been railroaded and then forgotten by the criminal justice system.

Work done by the Innocence Project has gained so much attention that it is even becoming the premise for a new television legal drama. According to a recent review in the New York Times, a show called “The Divide” is already proving to be more realistic, gritty, intelligent and entertaining than most of the legal dramas currently on television.

The reviewer notes that the show focuses on lawyers and interns who work at the “Innocence Initiative” as they attempt to free the wrongfully convicted. It also focuses on the politics and public-relations issues surrounding high-profile convictions, including issues of racial tension, prosecutors who build their careers on big cases and a public that calls for swift justice in the wake of brutal crimes. Despite these lofty themes, the NYT review says, the show manages to avoid excessive self-righteousness.

This may be the first scripted television drama about exonerating the wrongfully convicted. But other, non-fiction shows are beginning to tackle this issue as well. One is a CNN documentary series called “Death Row Stories,” that examines real capital punishment cases where defendants turned out to be innocent. According the Innocence Project’s website, the group has so far exonerated 18 defendants who have served time on death row.

At its heart, media is mirror that reflects a society’s values. As such, the presence of shows dealing with wrongful conviction and exoneration suggest that Americans are ready to face these issues head-on. 

Source: The New York Times, "Teetering on the Line Between Good and Evil," Alessandra Stanley, July 15, 2014

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Meet Attorney Guillory

Attorney Joshua S. Guillory was born in Alexandria, Louisiana. Upon graduating high school from Alexandria Senior High, he enrolled in classes at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree. Josh was a member of Mu Kappa Tau, a national honor society for marketing majors, while attending... Read More

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