The Exonerated is a 2000 play by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen that debuted Off-Broadway in October 2000 at 45 Bleecker Theater and ran for over 600 performances. It won numerous awards including the Lucille Lortel Award for Unique Theatrical Experience, the Drama Desk Award for Unique Theatrical Experience, and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Off-Broadway Play. It was adapted into a 2005 film by the same name.
During the summer of 2000, Jensen and Blank traveled to interview 40 former death row inmates who had been freed by the state after having served as much as 22 years in prison. After previews beginning on October 1, the play debuted Off-Broadway on October 10, 2002, at 45 Bleecker Theater, directed by Bob Balaban. The original run lasted from October 10, 2002, to March 7, 2004.
A revival of the play ran from September 19, 2012, to December 2, 2012, at the same theater, with a rotating cast that included Brian Dennehy, Stockard Channing, Delroy Lindo, Brooke Shields, and Lyle Lovett. The play was later performed for a 16-week run at the Riverside Studios theater in London, where it was supported by death penalty opponent Amnesty International.
In December 2002, the play was performed by a cast that included Richard Dreyfuss, Danny Glover and Mike Farrell, for Illinois Governor George Ryan, other politicians, and attorneys. A group of exonerated individuals also attended.
In 2005, the play was adapted into a film of the same name, starring Susan Sarandon, Danny Glover and Brian Dennehy. That February, Simon & Schuster published Jensen and Blank's memoir, Living Justice: Love, Freedom and the Making of The Exonerated.
Since then, DNA testing and analysis has become vital to exonerating innocent people and driving criminal justice reform. Decades of data on DNA-related and non-DNA exonerations expose systemic vulnerabilities. The Innocence Project fights to redress these systemic issues through strategic litigation, policy reform, and education. This page explores a sample of the demographics of our exonerated clients, as well as the factors that contributed to their wrongful convictions.
Eddie Lee Howard, Jr., convicted and sentenced to death based on the false forensic testimony of a since disgraced prosecution expert witness, was exonerated in January 2021. He was the sixth death-row prisoner exonerated in Mississippi since 1973.
Dennis Perry was exonerated this year of the racially motivated murders of a deacon and his wife in a Black church in Georgia in 1985. His case was one of at least four death-penalty prosecutions involving misconduct by Brunswick Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney John B. Johnson III. Johnson obtained death sentences against death-row exonerees Larry Jenkins and Larry Lee, as well as Jimmy Meders, whose death sentence was commuted in 2020.
Multiple lawsuits brought by other death-row exonerees and exonerees who were threatened with the death penalty during their prosecutions are pending across the country. Former Mississippi death-row prisoner Curtis Flowers, who was exonerated in 2020, is suing the officials whose misconduct led to his arrest and repeated wrongful convictions. Flowers was tried six times and spent 23 years wrongfully incarcerated for a quadruple murder in a white-owned furniture store in Winona, Mississippi. 1e1e36bf2d