From left to Right (John White, Willie Williams, Samuel Scott, Robert Clark, Douglas Echols, Clarence Harrison, Calvin Johnson).INNOCENCE !
All were wrongfully convicted in Georgia. All were convicted based upon eyewitness identifications. All were sent to prison. All were exonerated and freed by the efforts of the Innocence Project.
John Jerome White, the latest to gain freedom, was freed after the Georgia Innocence Project persuaded authorities to run a DNA test on the evidence from his 1979 rape case. The test results cleared White and led to the arrest of another suspect, James Edward Parham. Parham had been convicted of a 1985 rape. In an ironic twist, Parham was actually in the same line-up from which the victim picked White out as her attacker. These cases illustrate problems with eyewitness identification. The Georgia Innocence Project, a non profit agency started in 2002, is exposing the problems with eyewitness identification. GIP is also working with lawmakers to require law enforcement agencies to develop and follow written procedures for conducting an eyewitness identification.
The Georgia Innocence Project (“GIP”) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping individuals who have been convicted of crimes they did not commit. The Project works to get DNA testing for Georgia inmates where DNA analysis could prove guilt or innocence and adequate DNA testing was not available at the time of the person’s trial. GIP, through its Life After Exoneration program, continues to work with clients to help them rebuild their lives. This service includes representing exonerated clients obtain financial compensation for years spent behind bars. The Georgia General Assembly has awarded such compensation in several cases most recently $1.2 to Willie Pete Williams. GIP also spearheads and supports public policy to remedy past wrongful convictions and help prevent them in the future. Mistaken Identity is the common thread throughout wrongful convictions. Misidentification was involved in 75% of the 210 cases of wrongful conviction overturned by DNA evidence nationally. In Georgia, mistaken identification was a primary factor in all seven of the convictions that DNA testing proved to be in error.
Unfortunately for GIP, in March 2008, House Bill 997 (the Witness Identification Accuracy Act) failed to make it out of the Rules Committee of the Georgia House of Representatives. The bill would have required law enforcement agencies to develop written procedures for conducting identification procedures and training officers who conduct the procedures. "It was a no-cost solution that could have helped prevent wrongful conviction." said Aimee Maxwell, Executive Director of the GIP.