With Mr. Verger’s recent mishap of mistaken identity, eyes have been turned to recognize The Innocence Project as a way to help fix the system of identification. Their informing website educates you on the causes of these misidentified innocents, offers cases of these individuals, and offers options for how you can help.
Donald Verger’s case was that of “eyewitness misidentification”, the most common cause of mistaken identity.
A lot can be learned simply from the organization’s mission statement:
“The Innocence Project was founded in 1992 by Barry C. Scheck and Peter J. Neufeld at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University to assist prisoners who could be proven innocent through DNA testing. To date, 233 people in the United States have been exonerated by DNA testing, including 17 who served time on death row. These people served an average of 12 years in prison before exoneration and release.
The Innocence Project’s full-time staff attorneys and Cardozo clinic students provide direct representation or critical assistance in most of these cases. The Innocence Project’s groundbreaking use of DNA technology to free innocent people has provided irrefutable proof that wrongful convictions are not isolated or rare events but instead arise from systemic defects. Now an independent nonprofit organization closely affiliated with Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, the Innocence Project’s mission is nothing less than to free the staggering numbers of innocent people who remain incarcerated and to bring substantive reform to the system responsible for their unjust imprisonment.”
The program “60 Minutes” featured cases of mistaken identity, and the causes of eyewitness misidentification.
Ronald Cotton, a man wrongly accused of rape, served 11 years in jail because of eyewitness misidentification. Jennifer Thompson-Cannino, the woman who misidentified Ronald, now works with him to help fix these flaws in the criminal justice system in order to prevent cases like these. Their book Picking Cotton tells about their story and struggle with the case of misidentification.
CBS News Story, Eyewitness: How Accurate is Visual Memory, features this case.
We want to hear what you have to say. Have you been a victim of mistaken identity? Perhaps someone you know? Tell us your story.