In the span of one week, our project saw four clients set free in three different cases, three different ways, and in three different jurisdictions.
The first, Keith Cooper, was pardoned by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb on February 9th.
The second, John Horton, was released on bail on February 10th after 23 years of wrongful incarceration. (We got wind of John’s release while at Keith’s press conference.)
The third and fourth, co-defendants LaShawn Ezell and Charles Johnson, were exonerated by the Cook County State’s Attorney on February 15th.
The amount of good news we received in the past week is tremendous, but the variety is demonstrative. Fighting a wrongful conviction means attacking injustice from all sides. It means campaigning at governors’ offices, petitioning prosecutors (and then re-petitioning newly-elected prosecutors), and it means exhausting appeal after appeal after appeal. For most of our clients, it means fighting for your life in a cage that is meant to convince you that life is meaningless.
The decisions that lead to a wrongful conviction often take place in mere moments, while the battle to overturn a wrongful conviction is a tooth and nail fight that can last for decades. Let us celebrate our victories as successes and let us see our losses as setbacks only. I hope that each victory fuels hope for the next exoneree.
“It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We must love each other and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.”