January 3, 2017

How To Help

I asked Nikki Pope, co-author of Pruno, Ramen and a Side of Hope, how people who aren’t attorneys can help. She has some suggestions:

One thing is to find out what your local innocence project needs. One of our exonerees profiled in Pruno, Larry Lamb, moved to the Boston area to live with his son and to get away from the negative influences in his life.

The most effective way to put a dent into wrongful convictions is to prevent them in the first place. Compelling law enforcement to adopt best practices like proper eyewitness identification procedures and videotaping of interrogations would be great. I’m not sure what Massachusetts’ policies are; I sent a copy to Governor Baker (a Kellogg classmate of mine) to encourage him to encourage MA law enforcement to adopt or refine best practices.

Conviction Integrity Units have been effective in some jurisdictions at finding and exonerating innocent people. The unit must legitimately be interested in correcting the wrong; something that is just for publicity is more harmful than doing nothing.

Most innocence projects are understaffed. They get many more requests for investigation than they have resources to investigate. These aren't even legal services, just private investigators. Many donate their time, but if they were paid, the cases would get to the top of the list faster. Funds to pay private investigators are always welcome. If you're in the Boston area, check out the New England Innocence Project and find out what they need - volunteers, investigators, lawyers.

Of course, any copies of the book (or the audiobook) that you'd like to send to others will be great. We're giving most of our share of the proceeds from book sales to support the exonerees and organizations that provide legal and social support services to exonerees. I actually prefer the audiobook because I hear something different every time I listen.