Press Release

The Innocents
Photographs and Interviews by Taryn Simon
Commentary by Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck


These are the faces and voices of the wrongfully convicted. These are the stories of people imprisoned for years before finally proving their innocence. This collection of photographs and interviews with the wrongfully convicted are gathered from across the United States. They expose a broken judicial system where corrupt prosecutors, sleeping lawyers, bent cops, and jailhouse snitches subvert the most fundamental principles of justice.

Photographer Taryn Simon brings us face-to-face with individuals falsely accused and convicted. While mugshots and photoarrays are used to condemn and imprison these innocents, Simon has turned the camera around to document these victims of mistaken identity and perverted justice. Simon photographed the wrongfully convicted at locations that were crucial in these legal cases: the scene of misindentification, the scene of arrest, the alibi location, or the scene of the crime. Through Simonís interviews with each, the men and women in this book confront the paradox of innocence and imprisonment, the inability to recover the years stolen from them, and the statesí unconscionable refusal to compensate them or ease their traumatic transition to civilian life.

The Innocence Project, founded by leading civil rights attorneys Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck, is responsible for most of the postconviction DNA exonerations in the United States today, many of which are included in this book. On the ten-year anniversary of its founding, the Project continues to free the innocent, striving to transform criminal justice into a more equitable and reliable system.

This compelling book of photographs and interviews with the wrongfully convicted by Taryn Simon includes a foreward and case profiles by Peter Neufeld and Barry Scheck. The failings of the criminal justice system and the use of the death penalty in this country are currently under close scrutiny and an important topic of public debate. The images and voices of The Innocents mark this historic turning point in America.

BIOGRAPHIES

TARYN SIMON was born in 1975 in New York. She is a graduate of Brown University. In 2001, she was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in Photography. Simonís photographs have exhibited internationally, and been featured in several publications including, The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker.

PETER NEUFELD & BARRY C. SCHECK co-founded and direct the Innocence Project at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City. The Project provides pro bono representation to inmates throughout the country who claim that DNA testing could prove their innocence. The Project also studies the institutional causes of wrongful convictions and provides remedies to reduce the frequency of future miscarriages of justice. In February 2000, Actual Innocence: Five Days to Execution, and Other Dispatches From the Wrongly Convicted, written by Neufeld, Scheck, and Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Jim Dwyer, was published by Doubleday. Their work has shaped the course of case law across the country and helped establish state and federal legislation setting standards for forensic DNA testing. They both serve as members of the New York State Commission on Forensic Science, a body that regulates all crime laboratories in the state.

Neufeld and Scheck are partners in the law firm Cochran, Neufeld & Scheck, specializing in civil rights and constitutional litigation. Frequently retained by victims of police brutality and racial discrimination, the firm pursues civil rights claims in the courts and seeks systemic change. Some of the firm`s most recent clients include Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant tortured by New York police inside a precinct bathroom, two of the four young men racially profiled by and shot at by New Jersey state troopers, and a man beaten to death by jail guards while serving a 90 day sentence for driving while impaired.

Neufeld and Scheck have litigated and taught extensively in both the "hard" and behavioral forensic sciences. Much of their work is of public interest, resulting in an enhanced public awareness of national problems, improving the criminal justice system, and legislative reform.


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