I love this picture and wanted to share it with you.
At our recent 10th Anniversary Celebration, held on October 11, 2012, we rented a photo booth and encouraged folks to have photos taken with family, friends and exonerees.
This picture was organized by one of our longtime supporters and volunteer lawyers, Stephen Berk.* How he managed to get all the exonerees at the party into the photo booth at the same time is a mystery to me!
Gathered for the picture were (clockwise from top left): Ronnie Taylor, exonerated after 14 years in a Texas penitentiary; Stephen Berk, volunteer attorney; Clarence Harrison, exonerated after 17 years; Calvin Johnson, exonerated after 16 years; John White, exonerated after 28 years; and Robert Clark (partially seen), exonerated after 24 years. Together these men lost 99 years for crimes they did not commit.
But that night they were just friends taking a goofy picture.
That's why I love this picture. I can see that, maybe just for that moment, they had forgotten. Forgotten the horror of being wrongfully convicted. Forgotten all those nightmarish days in prison trying to figure out how it happened. Forgotten the pain of rebuilding a life after all those wasted years.
I don't get to see the guys like this often.
Years in prison forever changed these men, and the betrayal by our criminal justice system reshaped their view of the world. When I see "our guys," there is usually something going on relating to their exoneration. Sometimes we are speaking at a community event about the work of GIP and their experiences. Sometimes they need a hand readjusting to life in the "free world." Sometimes they just need to vent.
When I look at this picture, I see what GIP is all about. Giving people who were wrongfully convicted the opportunity to be free.
Your past support helped put these men in that photo booth on October 11, 2012. Your year-end donation will help us add more faces to the photo next year.
Georgia Innocence Project
2645 N. Decatur Road
Decatur, Georgia 30033
Fighting wrongful conviction is in our DNA
P.S. Don't forget, there is still time to make your 2012 donation. Every dollar we receive helps us fight wrongful convictions in Georgia and Alabama.
* In 2005, Stephen Berk volunteered to help Clarence Harrison with a child support matter when the State of Georgia wanted back child support for the years Clarence was wrongfully incarcerated. The original of the photo above hangs on Stephen's refrigerator.