March 21, 2012
A Long Road to Innocence: A Screening and Dialogue around Mississippi Innocence
Caroline FredricksonPresident, American Constitution Society for Law and Policy
Rep. Bennie G. ThompsonU.S. House of Representatives (MS-2)
Rep. Robert C. "Bobby" ScottU.S. House of Representatives (VA-3)
Garrett EppsProfessor of Law, University of Baltimore School of Law
Tucker CarringtonDirector, Mississippi Innocence Project; Co-Producer, Mississippi Innocence
ACS hosted A Long Road to Innocence: A Screening and Dialogue Around Mississippi Innocence. In February, a Mississippi district attorney secured a conviction for murders that were committed more than 20 years earlier. Many would suggest that justice, like an old adage offers, is better late than never. However, in this case, also more than 20 years ago, two men were deemed responsible for these murders; Levon Brooks was sentenced to life in prison and Kennedy Brewer was sentenced to death. The two men were exonerated and released from prison in 2008, having spent a combined 32 years incarcerated for crimes they did not commit. For Brooks, Brewer, and the victims, justice came very late, so is this even justice at all?
Mississippi Innocence explores this question and others as it tells the story of Brewer and Brooks. Have the close to 300 DNA exonerations since 1989 demonstrated the need for additional practices and policies that would prevent wrongful convictions? As eyewitness misidentification is the leading cause of wrongful convictions, did the Supreme Court just increase the likelihood of such convictions with its decision in Perry v. New Hampshire? Where are the checks on overzealous law enforcement and prosecutors, faulty forensic science, false confessions, and informants that also lead to wrongful convictions? Importantly, how can our criminal justice system chart a path forward that guarantees accountability and basic fundamental fairness for all?