- Written by Bill Branham
Rubin "Hurricane" Carter is one of the more famous exonerees from the U.S.. criminal justice system, in part because of his celebrity status at the time of his wrongful conviction. Ironically, you won't find him in the National Registry of Exonerations, because Rubin was exonerated by writ of habeas corpus in 1988. The registry begins Jan 1, 1989, the year of the first DNA exoneration. Also, ironically, those who advocated for his eventual exoneration were not Americans, except for a young underprivileged boy, who was being tutored and taught how to read by a group of Canadians. The used book the boy picked up for a few cents was The Sixteenth Round: From Number 1 Contender to Number 45472, written by Rubin while in prison with little chance to prove his innocence. And the remarkable story starts from there.
There are many fine articles that you may read commemorating this man. The Redemption Song of Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter focuses on the truly important years. After Rubin's exoneration, he worked with a group to free another wrongfully convicted man he had met in prison. Later, the group was reconstituted as the Association In Defense of the Wrongly Convicted (AIDWYC). Rubin was the Executive Director of the Toronto based AIDWYC for 12 years. USA Today has a fine article interviewing Win Wahrer, who helped found AIDWYC with Carter in 1993. Win and the international wing of AIDWYC have always been special to Proving Innocence. Win was the first friendly face to greet board members Kate and Bill Branham, when they attended the Innocence Conference in Boston before forming PI. AIDWYC has represented Ray Gray, one of the cases PI follows here in Detroit. As The Atlantic article points out, Rubin's real accomplishments were after he was exonerated and helped form AIDWYC. So, we encourage you to go to the AIDWYC blog and read articles by the people who knew him best during those important years.
We are sad to see him go, but we can't help but think that Rubin would be very pleased if you use the news of his death as a way of inviting family and neighbors over to watch The Hurricane and afterwards have a discussion about what is going on with wrongful convictions today. Explain to them that Rubin's circumstances were not a "special case". There are systemic problems with our system that have continued to produce many more, less well known, wrongful convictions. They will continue to happen until the general public understands what is going on and is motivated to expose others to this reality and change the system. Motivating someone to read the book is a long shot, but watching The Hurricane is a winner. Don't let the opportunity slip by.
- Written by Bill Branham
The National Registry of Exonerations has captured the attention of the wrongful conviction community, as well as of our criminal justice system. The stature of the schools behind it, Northwestern Law School's Center for Wrongful Convictions, and the University of Michigan Law School, have given the Registry credibility that can't be ignored.
Those who earlier claimed wrongful convictions is not a systemic problem are dumbfounded by this figure, but those who investigate this know it will only continue to grow in two basic ways. First, as the years move on, there will be more exonerations, probably at an accelerated pace, since the system is considering things it would not have even looked at before. An example of this is a family's intention to ask for a new trial for their brother who was executed 70 years ago! The climate today is such that only now do they believe they can have a fair trial. Second, the list will grow as the Registry finds exonerations which have already taken place. In 2013, the Registry added 87 new exonerations, but it also added another 147 exonerations from previous years which they only learned about this last year.
We encourage you to read the report yourself and learn, based on sound verified data. But the focus of this article is what the report can't tell us.
The press is often, and rightly so, credited with exposing wrongful convictions.
Unfortunately, they also have been used to promote the prosecutor's views and have unwittedly been involved in encouraging wrongful convictions.
- Court of Appeals Gives Davontae Hope
- Presenting Oral Argument in Davontae's Appeal
- Michigan's Law to Videotape* Interrogations
- Michigan Indigent Defense Law Signed by Snyder
- Baffling and Egregious Decision by New Calhoun County Prosecutor
- New Year Reflections
- Kirstin "Blaise" Lobato
- Hurray for the Michigan Advisory Commission on Indigent Defense!
- Report by the National Registry of Exonerations - 1989 to 2012
- Judge Orders New Trial for Lorinda Swain
- Temujin's Habeas Reversed!
- Ray Must Wait Another 5 years!
- Press Conf of Faces of Failed System
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