David J. Celuch
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Popular Netflix show raises awareness of wrongful convictions

Netflix recently released a new documentary following two crimes in Ada, Oklahoma that occurred in the early 1980’s. The documentary, The Innocent Man provides a well-researched account of a crime that was terribly mishandled by law enforcement and which later revealed corruption within the local justice department.

Details were shared through the lengthy documentary of information withheld from the defense team, failing to pursue possible suspects, and police reports missing vital information, such as dates and names. In fact, two men who were believed to be coerced into giving false confessions were sentenced and later exonerated when DNA evidence proved their innocence over ten years later.

Reality may be shocking

To the viewer, it may appear absurd to see how the puzzle pieces during that time were botched together, resulting in innocent men losing their freedom for multiple years. However, unfortunately it is the reality of many wrongfully convicted inmates in America. In the documentary, author John Grisham is interviewed in admitting how he chose not to make a fiction novel based on the Ada, Oklahoma crimes, instead he wrote a non-fiction book since the truth was going to be hard for many readers to believe. Thankfully, Netflix is a popular platform to reach many people with true stories like this one.

Awareness is the beginning of change

When more viewers are aware of how the justice system has failed many people and families at the state and federal level, a change is possible. Awareness is the first pre-requisite in any revolution, including legal justice reform in America. The Innocence Project, featured in the Netflix documentary, is an organization committed to helping the wrongfully convicted overturn their guilty verdict. Many families have been turning to their volunteers to help them with examining their defense.

The reality is that the justice system in America is not perfect. In many ways it is flawed and innocent people get sentenced to serve behind bars for crimes they did not commit. Thankfully, there is help available for people and families in this situation. Hopefully, Netflix continues to shed light on this epidemic and stimulates positive change as a result.

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