At noon on Friday, Sept. 23, members of “The Exoneree Band” will speak at a panel in the LSC conference room in the D.J. Lombardo Student Center to discuss wrongful convictions. The band is in Cleveland for a House of Blues performance on Thursday, Sept. 22.
Each of the band members was exonerated after being wrongfully convicted, which means they were incarcerated for a crime they did not commit. Although the five members are from different parts of the country, they decided to form a band as a way to bond over their shared skepticism of the criminal justice system.
The band met through the Innocence Project and continues to be affiliated with the organization. According to the official website, the Innocence Project is a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.
Sara Schiavoni, a JCU political science professor who created the wrongful conviction course, reached out to Mark Godsey, the director of the Ohio Innocence Project, to see if it would be possible for the band to make a stop at JCU before they left Cleveland.
Schiavoni felt it was important and educational for students to hear directly from exonerees about their experience. “Students should care about the issue of wrongful conviction because it involves systemic problems with our criminal justice system, many of which can be addressed with increased public awareness,” said Schiavoni.
Schiavoni added that “through podcasts like “Serial” and documentaries like “Making a Murderer,” the issue of Wrongful Convictions is in public consciousness and this event is a fantastic opportunity for our community to hear about it from actual exonerees.”