I. What is IIPPI?

The Innocent in Prison Project International (IIPPI) is a medium, which supports errors of justice awareness. Miscarriages of justice concern anyone. When innocent individuals are imprisoned, the guilty ones are at large and may commit more crimes. IIPPI illustrates cases of possibly false or wrongful convictions. Public documents, audio and video files, (interactive) maps, polls, and comment features enrich this website beyond detailed analysis. IIPPI has been an informative and inspiring source to students, journalists,governmental officials, activists and others since 2004.

II. Definition: "Innocent"

"Morally free from guilt, guiltless, free from the guilt of a particular crime or offense, a man [person] is innocent of the crime charged."
(Source: Webster's 1913 Dictionary)

Self Defense:
"Force likely to cause death or great bodily harm is justified in self-defense only if a person reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm."
(Source: Lectric Law Library's Lexicon)

"Not guilty": the person may have been present at the crime scene, but was neither the perpetrator nor an accomplice. A person is "innocent", when s/he is not only "not guilty", but not involved in any form or fashion at all.

IIPPI distinguishes between "innocent", "not guilty" and self-defense. Cases of prisoners, whose argumentation is based on legal technicalities only, are not featured on this site. The laws change, but actual innocence remains the same.

III. Introduction

In a constitutional state, presumption of innocence is effective in criminal law, i.e. someone is innocent until proven guilty.

Since we are all human, we may make mistakes. Something that was considered right in the past, may be found wrong nowadays. Questionable facts may or may not be true. This may or may not be recognized. The following four possibilities result from these two sources of error:
  • Someone is guilty and there is proof (correct charge and conviction)
  • Someone is guilty, but there is no evidence (correct charge, not provable)
  • Someone is innocent and the evidence wrongfully leads to the convicted person (wrong charge and conviction)
  • Someone is innocent and the guilt can not be proven (wrong charge, no evidence; convincing conviction is impossible, but happens at times)

IV. In A Nutshell

There are not only innocents on death row, there are innocents everywhere behind bars. Unfortunately, not every conviction can be vindicated through the technology of DNA evidence. Various falsely incarcerated persons suffer from injustices afflicted by bogus witnesses, unlawful police, court appointed defense attorneys, prosecutors and judges! One or more of the following factors typically contribute to a false conviction:
  • Mistaken eyewitness identification
  • Fabrication of evidence by police or crime lab technicians
  • Overzealous prosecutors who are concerned with winning instead of serving justice
  • Court appointed defense attorneys are poorly paid, often overworked, and not always experienced in criminal law, or even capital crime cases.
  • Lack of proper police investigation
  • False confessions that were physically or psychologically coerced by police officers. Alternative: coerced plea bargains by the prosecutor's piling on of charges that would result in a much longer sentence or even the death penalty
  • Perjury by prosecution witnesses
  • "Snitches"/ informants/ co-defendants (state witnesses) being allowed to testify in court and making "deals" with the prosecutor on their own behalf.
  • Uncritical and untrained jurors. They are not aware of the "games" that are being played.
  • Exclusion of other suspects
  • Rulings of the judge who favors the prosecution
  • Uncritical media coverage. Unethical news reporters who deliberately only tell half of the "story". They put pressure on the State to prosecute, convict and sometimes execute someone.
  • There is also official misconduct when crucial evidence disappears, is destroyed or withheld from the defense
  • Unequal opportunity: Lack of resources prevents most defendants from hiring investigators and experts. However, thanks to the tax payers, the prosecutor has all the resources needed to win a conviction.
  • Discrimination or prejudice against a defendant's ethnity, race, religion, nationality, political or personal ideas
  • The prosecutor's and law enforcement's (indirectly also the state witnesses') immunity from suit allows them to get away with misconduct and felonies as e.g. perjury without being prosecuted and punished themselves
  • Basically, innocent prisoners are fighting against political interests. In the USA, district attorneys, state attorney generals, sheriffs, and state judges are not career civil servants. They are elected, and therefore, politicians. This political element blurs the separation of powers within the criminal justice system and makes those authorities somewhat biased hermaphrodites.
There were always unjustly convicted women and men, and - unfortunately - there will always be. The higher the prison population rate (per 100,000 of national population), the more likely innocent inmates are confined. See the trend by country and other criteria at www.prisonstudies.org. International Centre for Prison Studies (ICPS), King's College London/ University of London, England

Consequences of "errors of justice" may be, but are not limited to:
  • More crimes, because the true perpetrator is free.
  • Precious lifetime is literally killed.
  • The mental state of the innocent is affected.
  • The life among criminals is dangerous! Rapes, beatings and stabbings behind bars are not rare and, thus, the innocent individuals may not only suffer from an unjust punishment but also from injuries and later HIV or Hepatitis C.
  • Diseases may be spreaded in the free world.
  • Marriages, family bonds and friendships break up.
  • Children suffer from the separation.
  • A prisoner's family and loved ones are discriminated against and excluded by their fellow human beings.
  • In particular children learn that the truth does not appear to matter.
  • Families are threatened with financial ruin, because they do not only have to retain an attorney, but they also lose one worker and therefore one salary (frequently the salary of the breadwinner!).
  • Misery points the way for a new generation of criminals.
  • Even the exoneration of an innocent cannot cure the harm that was done to her/his reputation, because there are always doubters and rumors everywhere.
  • Disenfranchisement (loss of the right to vote, registration as a sex offender)
  • Who employs a former prisoner?

"There is no crueler tyranny than that which is exercised under cover of law, and with the colors of justice …."
United States vs Jannottie, 673 F.2d 578, 614 (ed Cir. 1982)

"The only thing needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing"
Edmund Burke (1729-1797)

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)

"When a cause comes along and you know in your bones that it is just, yet refuse to defend it - at that moment you begin to die. And I have never seen so many corpses walking around talking about justice."
Mumia Abu-Jamal (journalist on death row)

"If you're innocent in prison, you suffer for it because it means you can't get parole because you won't say you're guilty. When people like that year after year continue to maintain they are innocent, then those people are the people we have to listen to.”
Rubin "Hurricane" Carter (freed innocent prisoner and activist)

"They [the system] are quick to convict but they are slow to correct their mistakes."
Alton Logan(freed innocent prisoner after 26 years)

"There needs to be legislation to get rid of time limitations for actual innocence. There's no time limit on murder; there should be no time limitations on actual innocence."
Sherry Swiney (activist and widow of a framed ex-police officer)

"No government is ever pure or wise enough to claim the power to kill."
Albert Camus (1913-1960)

"Each time a person stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others....they send forth a ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."
Robert F. Kennedy (1925-1968)

"A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history."
Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

*** Before you contact us on behalf of a prisoner who claims to have been falsely convicted, we request from her/ him to submit the complete application. Thank you! ***

IIPPI Trailer

Book Trailer: Visit the blog of this book at www.vincentsimmons.iippi.org

IIPPI is copied often, but has been financed by only one single person for years. A few bucks or a link back to IIPPI would be nice.

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